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Books as art objects: Artists' book exhibition explores unique genre

Agency | January 10, 2019 02:45 PM

NEW DELHI:  Different from paintings and sculpture, artists' books -- a unique art genre itself -- engage 'viewer-readers' differently with works otherwise hung on the wall. Exhibited at a leading gallery here are several examples that explore the book as an art object.

Titled "The Art Book Exhibition 2019", the group show of several artists, with diverse themes and approaches, is currently open at the Triveni Kala Sangam here. It is presented by Art Heritage Gallery.

Allowing visitors to pore over, touch, flip through and closely admire its pages, the artists' book is a ready respite from works one is used to seeing behind glass barriers.

A participating artist, Kanchan Chander, is exhibiting a kind of diary of her living experience through the weeks of its making. Full of visual records of her daily realities, the pages also contain lyrics of dozens of songs she listens to while working.

"The book was made in over four weeks. I cannot work without listening to music -- be it Indian or western classical, pop, jazz or romantic 'ghazals'," Chander told IANS, while pointing to scribbled Hindi lyrics from a few decades back that cocoon her visuals.

Proving to be a "more tactile, intimate experience", an artist's book is a generic term that refers to the book the artist has created as being the artwork itself, and is not to be mistaken for an artist's sketchbook, as per Art Heritage Gallery.

Called livre d'artiste (the artist's book) in France, they are normally published in limited editions, each copy being individually numbered and is signed by the artist him/herself.

From large-format graphic books to 'sculpture books', the show brings to the visitors a kind of cinematic experience which develops page by page.

Why do artists find this medium exciting? The gallery asks of its own works, and answers:

"To begin with, in creating a book the dimension is greatly reduced. Secondly, the artist book format allows the artist to conceive in multiple images, as a series, rather than restrict herself to creating one single iconic image of potency, as she would in constructing a canvas," it said in a note.

Seeing, reading and touching, then coming together creates scope for a new kind of appreciation of art.

On view are Jai Zharotia's 30 acrylic works, inspired by Luqman Ali, a fictional character penned by the well-known Hindi writer Soumitra Mohan; Rajesh Deb's large, 3D 'sculpture books' made of acrylic etched with text and images, based on the evolution of the Bengali Babu, and the 1857 uprising; and Gouri Vemula's monumental work with the "Mahabaratham".

Also exhibited are Kavita Jaiswal's folding 'sculpture books' combining abstract works, poetry and texts; Sunanda Khajuria's two accordion format books; Ravinder Dutt's Mughal-inspired wood-block and stainless steel-acrylic books; and works by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Rini Dhumal and Sweety Joshi.

The show is open for public viewing till January 27, from Monday to Saturday.

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