Curatorial note for 'Drawing Index'

Drawing Index

January 12th - 14th, 2019

Cultural Centre, Cholamandal Artists’ Village, Chennai, India

Drawing Index is a group show featuring three emerging artists - Sujeeth Kumar Sree Kandan, Vasundhara Shankari Sellamuthu, and Arvind Sundar. Viewing drawing as a shared lexicon of mark making, works on display seek to unpack questions around systems of representation, authorship, and everyday life through a range of media including paint, screen-printing, cement, etching on steel, and soot on canvas. Rather than considering pieces on display as finished and closed systems of meaning, the artists look forward to conversations with artists and members of public through the format of this three day pop-up show.

Kandan’s Resonance, 2013, translates an experience of everyday life, the sounds of vessels being washed, into synaesthetic drawing. Etched on and displayed on stainless steel plates, these visual markers serve as subjective traces of sensorial auditory experience. In Untitled, 2018, a grid of thirty four-inch square canvases function as indexes of presence. Holding traces and residues of candle soot, the canvases act as containers and witness to the material and tool it refers to. Undoing drawing’s inherent tendency to delineate, Kandan embraces chance through this process of mark making, akin to inflections in daily life.

Maesthri’s love letter, 2019, by Sellamuthu celebrates scratch walls made by builders in anticipation of tiling. Sometimes left as is for years, the artist is fascinated by the potentiality and hope held in the tooth and purchase afforded by this surface. Created with an economy of tools, these intuitive handmade cursive marks take on the appearance of a letter (sometimes concealing the initials of a lover’s name) written in a script resembling a universal ‘pre-language’ state. Drawing, often viewed as the mainstay of Architects, here affords the kothanar room for lyrical abstraction. In placing facsimiles of scratch walls never intended to be seen in a building or gallery context, Sellamuthu questions conventions around what warrants visual and artistic merit.  

Sundar’s body of work Field & Form, 2017, references the language of architectural graphics and the grid as an organising principle. The use of bold black painted shapes on screenprinted grids simultaneously establishes and undoes classic figure-ground relationships. As the forms both sit on and disregard the grid, they are in stark contrast to its underlying geometry. The visibly varied loading of the brush negotiates the intended objectivity and truthfulness of pictorial projection. An absence of scale, context and orientation further renders these forms ambiguous as they take on the status of fictional programmes - as mechanical components, modernist buildings, or cartographic maps of imagined cities.

Text by Vasundhara Shankari Sellamuthu

Artist Bios:

Sujeeth Kumar Sree Kandan (b.1986) completed his BFA in 2008 and MFA in 2010 at the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai. His artwork is inspired by his perception of landscapes he lives in and travels through, with memories and past thoughts framing future ideas. Recent group show participations include ‘Scaffold,’ exhibited at Art Houz, Chennai (2017), ‘Group Show’ by Gallery Veda, at Park Hyatt Chennai (2016), ‘When boundaries begin to fade,’ by Art Houz Gallery, at IIT Chennai (2015), ‘Alterations,’ Art Houz Gallery, Bangalore (2015), ‘False Alternatives,’ curated by Meenakshi Thirukode, Park Hyatt, Chennai (2015), ‘Scaffold’ at Lalit Kala Akademi and Dakshina Chitra, Chennai (2014), ‘Is Human recyclable,’ an installation for Chipko Movement at Forum Mall, Chennai (2014), and ‘Emerging Idioms,’ Apparao Galleries, Chennai (2012). The artist lives and works in Chennai.

Vasundhara Shankari Sellamuthu (b.1989) is an artist and curator interested in the crossover between architecture and art theory. ‘Drawing Index’ is her debut show. Exhibitions curated include ‘10x10 Drawing the City London,’ for Article 25 at Twentytwo, London (2018) and the Royal Institute of British Architects, London (2016), ‘In Other Rooms,’ GALLERYSKE, Bangalore, ‘Codes of Culture,’ GALLERYSKE Delhi, and pop-up show ‘Private|Public-Photo Stories,’ The Yellow House, Pondicherry (all in 2015). She received a BA (Hons) in History of Art from Goldsmiths’ University of London (2013), studied Architecture at the Architectural Association (2009-2011) and Foundation Diploma at Chelsea College of Art & Design (2008) in London. Brought up in Chennai, she now lives and works in London.

Arvind Sundar (b.1993) graduated with an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the DAAP School of Art, University of Cincinnati, USA (2018) and previously studied Fine Art at School of the Art Institute Chicago (2016) and MS Visual Communication at Loyola College, Madras University (2015). Exhibition participations in 2018 include ‘Reductive Non-Objective Project,’ Cincinnati Chapter, ‘Smile until the tears run into your mouth,’ MFA Thesis show, Contemporary Arts Centre Cincinnati, and ‘It’s a Beautiful Mess,’ Carnegie Art Center, Covington, Kentucky. 2017 shows include ‘Homage to Hassan Sharif,’ Art Dubai, Dubai, ‘Pivot,’ Myers and Reed Gallery, University of Cincinnati, ‘Everything will work out,’ Divisible Artist collaborative, Dayton, and ‘One line over the other,’ Wavepool Gallery, Cincinnati. Focusing on intricate and delicate colour form relationships and fleeting everyday moments, Sundar recently relocated to Coimbatore.  

Vasundhara Sellamuthu