Galerie ISA

27 June - 20 September, 2014

132, Great Western Building, 1st Floor, SBS Road, Opp. Lion Gate, Fort, Mumbai, India

Marius Bercea and Ali Banisadr are two of the leading international artists participating in ‘Between Worlds’, which opens this week.

Created in collaboration with the British curator, Jane Neal, the show brings together a selection of works by four artists, Banisadr and Bercea, as well as Angel Otero and Fiona Rae.   All four artists explore the territory between abstraction and figuration, and each enjoys the physicality of painting and its process. If archaeology is about exposing the hidden, then painting is the ideal ground for its application. The medium involves the building up of strata: the textured layering of personal and collective memories; interplaying with fiction; intertwining real and virtual. The “hidden” is contained in the visible; the forgotten or imagined often resurrected through the process of painting. Sometimes artists like to play with invisibility using paint to create emotional as well as physical contexts, at other times they seek to convey a haptic sensibility through powerfully physical abstraction. The issue of the unseen, or partially uncovered and what it might contain or mask, is particularly resonant for all these painters working today. Though each is distinctly different, they share in common the ability to convey the tension between what is visible on the surface and what might lie beneath.   The notion of being ‘between worlds’ has long been a theme fascinating to artists. The transience of life and the idea of being poised between the living and the dead has perturbed and inspired in almost equal measure. So too has the tension that often occurs between desire and responsibility, as Sidonie Gabrielle Colette acknowledges: ‘On this narrow planet, we have only the choice between two unknown worlds. One of them tempts us – ah! what a dream, to live in that! – the other stifles us at the first breath.’   Considering that for so much of any given day, most people in the developed and developing world are ‘between worlds’, slipping in and out of portals that connect reality with the virtual, it is perhaps even more important to think about the trace and this point of intersection.

Both the physical and the virtual landscape are influenced by the imagination, a terrain that art has traditionally fed from. Now that (thanks to the internet), artists have access to the largest data base of images of all time through their own computers, it is no wonder that certain painters working today appear to be occupying a field that is also between worlds; in this case between abstraction and figuration. Like an archaeological dig that unearths strata and remnants of information that give insight into the past, so an artist can uncover the felt and the imagined, as well as the seen. This tension between visibility and invisibility, between what is physically present on the surface but also exists underneath or is known to the artist in terms of the imagination and virtual exploration can be formally expressed in the plastic medium of painting. Far from being an outmoded technique that cannot keep up with new technological developments, it has instead proved itself to be the ideal mode of expression; not only in terms of the painter’s own interpretations, but also in light of the viewer’s projections: painting can enable the meeting of perception and imagination in a physically tangible, alternate reality.