Reviews

Art and Politics by ADMIN

 Jamuna, pure pigment on canvas, by Natvar Bhavsar (Image: Asianart.com)

Jamuna, pure pigment on canvas, by Natvar Bhavsar (Image: Asianart.com)

Political language is a tongue, one that is optimally designed to infiltrate both thinking and feeling at the same time. Sarah Hurwitz, speechwriter for Michelle Obama, is a master at getting words to work at all those levels at the same time. Oratory brilliance takes me straight to awe.

Writing about art is strangely similar. When done well it speaks to our cerebral consciousness as well as our emotions, those often inchoate feelings that reside somewhere in our bodies other than our brains. The best writers about art, like the best orators, know how to hit all those spots.

Read the entire article, written by Deborah Barlow for Slow Muse, by clicking here.

The Pioneer Painter by ADMIN

 Image Courtesy GANT.

Image Courtesy GANT.

Bhavsar, one of the world’s preeminent abstract painters, has changed the way people view both art and those who make it. His work can be found in some 800 collections worldwide, including those of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. He has been the recipient of grants from the John D. Rockefeller III Fund and the Guggenheim Foundation. For nearly six decades, the Indian-born
artist has stretched the conventional boundaries of the canvas with his deeply absorbing color-field paintings. At the same time, Bhavsar has challenged notions of national identity in art,
drawing fruitfully from his Indian background but refusing to be defined by it.

Read the entire press release on the Gant website by clicking here.

New explorations in a Universe of Color by ADMIN

 Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal. Natvar Bhavsar with his paintings at FreedmanArt gallery, on the Upper East Side.

Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal. Natvar Bhavsar with his paintings at FreedmanArt gallery, on the Upper East Side.

Natvar Bhavsar uses dry pigment to create large, brilliantly colored, mural-like paintings. Critics often place the Indian-born artist in the context of the genesis of abstract art in America, comparing him with Abstract Expressionists and 'color-field' painters like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. But Mr. Bhavsar's method of building up surfaces through layers of dry pigment is his own. Though he harks back to India's classical music and ancient aesthetics, Sanskrit literature and subcontinental seasons as sources of inspiration or fodder for his titles, his approach is modern American, not ethnic Indian.

Read the entire article, written by Vibhuti Patel for the Wall Street Journal, by clicking here.

Natvar Bhavsar paintings at Contessa Gallery explore mysteries of matter and spirit through color by ADMIN

 Natvar Bhavsar's "Poorna II" (2012) seems to revel in the way color interacts with the eye while also conveying powerful moods and emotions.

Natvar Bhavsar's "Poorna II" (2012) seems to revel in the way color interacts with the eye while also conveying powerful moods and emotions.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If you're mesmerized by photographs of far-off galaxies and nebulae glowing in the infinite vastness of space, Contessa Gallery in Lyndhurst has a show for you.

Through Sunday, March 18, the gallery is showing an ample survey of paintings by Natvar Bhavsar, a native of the state of Gujarat, India, who established himself in the 1960s in New York and joined the Color Field movement.

Bhavsar doesn't paint astronomical phenomena or anything else literally recognizable, but his paintings evoke notions of sublime vastness and show how artistic materials, properly handled, can celebrate their physicality while also imparting elevated moods, if not a sense of the spiritual.

True to its name, proponents of Color Field painting, including Morris Louis, Jules Olitski and Helen Frankenthaler, created large abstractions that explored the physical properties of paint and the emotional and spiritual qualities of color.

Five decades later, that's still what Bhavsar is doing, and he's doing it very well.

The Contessa exhibition explores a suite of paintings in which Bhavsar sifts clouds of acrylic paint on canvas through screens, achieving soft blooms of color that always seem on the verge of coalescing into something while remaining nebulous and tantalizingly out of reach.

The tension between dissolution and coalescence is part of the allure. But Bhavsar's paintings also simply revel in the way color interacts with the eye while also conveying powerful moods and emotions.

In a large canvas called "Sravanaa," from 2008, Bhavsar lays down a cool, luminous cloud of turquoise and cobalt, which emerge from a field of superheated rust-red. In "Mugdhaa II" (2009), squiggling arabesques in various colors create a carpet of free-flowing, gestural shapes on a field of electric blue.

Bhavsar's paint often looks dry, as if the surfaces of his canvases were crusted with colored sand. At other times, he opts for surfaces with a high shine, evoking baked enamel. At still other times, his surfaces are soft and pebbly, like leather.

Overall, Bhavsar's work occupies a marvelous niche in modern and contemporary art in which East and West meet. It's often noted that Abstract Expressionist painters such as Franz Kline or Mark Tobey were influenced by Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. But it's more unusual to see a bridge between American art of the 1950s and '60s, and that of India.

Bhavsar's paintings make the connection seem thoroughly logical. They also bring to mind the Indian festival of Holi, in which people playfully splash each other with colored powder. The festival, observed by Bhavsar as a child, has had a major influence on his work.

Given the apparent simplicity of his paintings, it's easy to feel that you've seen all there is to see in a Bhavsar with the first glance. That's a mistaken assumption.

His work requires long, slow looking. You need to let the paintings work first on your retina and then, ultimately, on your imagination.

Read the entire review by Steven Litt (of the Plain Dealer) by clicking here.

[Singapore Premiere] The Poetics of Color: Natvar Bhavsar, a Painter's Journey by ADMIN

Natvar Bhavsar

It always isn't easy to step out of one's comfort zone in one medium, and then dabble in the craft of another. 5 years in the making, renowned New York based art curator and gallerist Sundaram Tagore (yes, the family name will ring a bell since he's a descendent of the famous poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore) has written and directed a 61 minute documentary film that is touted as the first and only documentary to trace the roots of Asian artists' contributions to contemporary American art. His subject is Indian painter Natvar Bhavsar, tracing his roots from the village of Gothava, India to the bright lights and big city of New York in the 60s, where he had met his wife in an art class, before settling down and being based out of Soho.

But it almost always isn't about Natvar Bhavsar himself as it is about art, so the narrative doesn't play out like a standard biography of a famous artist whom we slowly discover and delve into his personal and professional lives. Tagore didn't intend the film to be this unravelled in this standard way, and told a larger picture that, as a virtuoso in the visual arts, had plenty of more meditative moments as if he had transported the appreciation of art in a gallery, to that similar appreciation put on moving images in a film, where one gazes at, contemplates and forms a subjective opinion that is open to discussion and debate.

Clearly made for those in the art industry, whether the creators or connoisseurs, the film may alienate those who don't appreciate art at a more intellectual level, since the discourse by the field of experts in the film through talking heads styled interviews, with the likes of curators from some of the world's largest museums such as the Guggenheim, may be a monumental task to keep up and to thoroughly understand the inside lingo. However, when Tagore intersperses such moments quite frequently with beautiful cinematography capturing landscapes and especially the art pieces themselves, film viewers go back to familiar ground and inevitably become gazers at the larger picture outside a more focused discussion on art itself.

I felt that some subtitles or intertitles would have been beneficial especially to assist those not up to date with Bhavsar's works, to benefit from being given an additional clue with the title of the art piece to work with, which will in some way assist the viewer to appreciate and evaluate, joining in the fun, through the drawing of conclusions between the art piece, and what it's called. But then again I'm no art expert, so perhaps there are reasons that titles stay hidden, to allow the beauty of the pieces to burst forward instead. Being a first film, Tagore's inexperience can sometimes be spotted through recycled montage slices in the beginning used to set the stage, but once the film dealt with the subject matters close to his heart, his comfort and experience with the source materials naturally took over and this confidence shows as the film progresses.

This is both literally and figuratively an art film, and one that is rich in its imagery and reliance of those powerful images to tell a story. The film is now making its rounds in the festival circuit, and if you're up for some enlightenment and exposure into an aspect of the art industry, or to know more about Natvar Bhavsar the painter himself, then perhaps this hour long documentary could be the point to jump start that interest from.

Sundaram Tagore himself was present today to grace the Singapore Premiere at Sinema Old School, as well as to partake in a Q&A session with the audience.

Read the article on (A Nutshell) Review by clicking here.

Bhavsar among biggest names at Venice Biennale by ADMIN

Janet and Natvar Bhavsar

Does the 53rd Venice Biennale mark the end of art? Most critics have damned it, while recognizing it as the biggest event - in size, noise and money - of the art fraternity of the world. Beyond the hoopla at the annual extravanganza was an exhibition where Gujarat-born New Yorker Natvar Bhavsar was among the biggest names.

Read the entire article, written by Jyotirmoy Datta for DESI Talk by clicking here.

Natvar Bhavsar by ADMIN

 Natvar Bhavsar, "SATVAA I" (2003), Pure color pigment on canvas. Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Natvar Bhavsar, "SATVAA I" (2003), Pure color pigment on canvas. Courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

I first met Natvar Bhavsar in 1980 at his exhibition at the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas. I was familiar with Bhavsar’s paintings in New York during my graduate student days at New York University, but to see a major exhibition in Wichita by this Indian painter whose work I had admired at Max Hutchinson Gallery in SoHo was an undeniable thrill. I still remember how the paintings felt—the immense scale, the vibrant color, the bursting sensation of cosmic joy—all embedded with these magical surfaces. It was like a visualization of the Bhagavad Gita—like the struggle and synthesis between Brahma and Atman. The exhibition in Wichita was a true sensation— true, in the sense, that it transmitted something real, something beyond the fray of art school painting, something I could feel and embody and remember. To know is to remember—and this was precisely the nature of the experience in relation to Natvar Bhavsar’s paintings at that moment in time.

More recently, Bhavsar showed some of his recent smaller paintings at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery on Greene Street. Normally, Bhavsar shows paintings of an immense scale—a scale that perpetrates a feeling of Hindu cosmology where the viewer enters into the universe of a sensibility that merges thought with sensation, dream with reality, nuance with literalness. Memory is important in spite of the assumptions about cynicism that have become de rigueur since the days of postmodernism. At the Sundaram Tagore Gallery in SoHo, I experienced an exhibition of canvases by Bhavsar where the density of color literally burst from the center of the painting outward with sinuous tendrils that wove through space at the edges of an ovoid. Yet Bhavsar is not about color field painting. He was never really associated with artists like Noland, Frankenthaler, Olitski, and Louis, even in the late sixties when his immigrant career in New York began.

The titles of Bhavsar’s paintings are all in Sanskrit—"Aarakh," "Mangalaa," Alokaa," and "Satvaa." All the words express subtle variations of emotion. What I respond to in these paintings is precisely that— the subtle variations of feeling. As I entered the back room of the Tagore Gallery, I was confronted with a predominantly gold-ochre painting, entitled "Mangalaa." The common meaning of the word in Hindi refers to a social ritual in which acknowledgement of success or good-tidings is offered to the honored guest. "Alokaa" refers to a world that is beyond comprehension, a transcendent world not given to immanence alone, nor related to the mundane world of materialism. As for the paintings where these titles are given, the sense of being in the presence of another cosmos where pigment is the signifying element can be exhilarating.

Natvar Bhavsar’s paintings hold a remarkable consistency, but this is not to suggest that they are beyond change or beyond the effect of transition from one stage to another. Rather it is to suggest that the emotional respondent is given to color. And that color is the trajectory and the expedient conduit by which emotions are felt and somehow endured over time, over the temporal history in which painting is preserved and understood and assimilated into the stratosphere of linguistic meaning, and thus, given to the cosmos not as an effect but as a source of meaning. What Bhavsar’s paintings achieve is a remarkable intimacy that leads us into the present fusion of language, technology, and the transmission of form. They represent the most unequivocal resolution of amorphous Being. This paradox of meaning is an Indian intervention into the stasis of cynicism that remains on the bleak shorelines of Western culture.

Read the entire review on the Brooklyn Rail, written by Robert C. Morgan by clicking here.

Book on painter Natvar Bhavsar by noted historian released in N.Y. by ADMIN

The inner circle of art in New York City, which in the years immediately after World War II replaced Paris as the art capital of the world, in an informal ceremony last week placed its crown of recognition around the brows of a man born in the obscure Gujarat village of Gothava in 1934 and who came to the United States in 1962 to study art at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read the entire article, written by Jyotirmoy Datta for News Times India in New York, by clicking here.

2 shows in Europe and a book from Down Under feature the art of Natvar Bhavsar by ADMIN

It is ironic that while there has been not a single show of Natvar Bhavsar's works in India since he came to the United States in 1962, not one but two solo shows by the New York-based artist are scheduled in Europe for the last quarter of 1997.

The first of these, in Badragaz in Switzerland at Gallery B of the Badragaz Grand Hotel, will run from Oct. 21 through Dec. 14.

Read the entire article, written for India in New York by Jyotirmoy Datta for the News Times India, by clicking here.

Fireworks in a dark sky by ADMIN

The name Natvar Bhavsar, whose art works are on display once again in New York's art town Soho, may not ring a bell in India except, perhaps, in his homestate of Gujarat where he was a school drawing master but in the art circles of America he is known as an one of a kind colorist who creates abstract designs that shimmer and explode like fireworks on a dark sky.

Read the entire article, written by R. Chakrapani for The Hindu, by clicking here.