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It's A Maz Ing!

Dated: 00-00-0000
Source: Times of India
Writer/Contributed by: Mark Manuel

Harsh Goenka gets 26 artists to be bizarre.....

This is a big time for art in Mumbai. On Friday, the legendary S H Raza returned from Paris at 86 to hold an exhibition of 22 of his special works. Next, Vickram Sethi will present Artexpo 2008- a high-end shopping event featuring famous and upcoming artists. While yesterday, Harsh Goenka gave the city artists. While yesterday, Harsh Goenka gave the city A Maz Ing – a week-long show at the Jehangir Art Gallery featuring 26 artists that he hopes will leave art patrons, well, amazed. His performers are a motley crowd. If he has an Anjolie Ela Menon among them, then Goenka has also included a Riyas Komu, and for every Bose Krishnamchari and Jogen Chowdhary there are Mithu Sen and Mayura Subhedar.
Explaining the experience he has lined up for Mumbai, Goenka Said, “It’s cutting edge because I didn’t want to present an exhibition of art in its conventional, pure form. I’ve taken the gallery and transformed the space, created an architectural marvel that is of different elevations, there are tunnels, dark areas, spots brightly illuminated, some places that require you to climb up steps and look down a well, others that necessitate peering through a window. It’s a maze, really and I’ve chosen the artists based on their ability to work on ideas that are awe-inspiring and whose works depict a sense of novelty.”
Mumbai, clearly, was not expecting anything like this. Goenka could not be bothered. Most galleries, he is aware, are interested only in art that is commercially viable. “My exhibition is not commercial. I have been inspired to present art in a way which brings in the future. I love the intrigue of a maze, I enjoy the idea of sudden discovery, I’m taken up by fantasy and the bizarre,” he admitted. Which is why, all his 26 artists are doing something different from what they are used to. A Maz Ing has video projections, sculptural installations, drawings on graph paper, photographic projections of archival prints on linen, ink jets on paper, paintings on marine plywood, the enterprising Julius Macwan (yes, the same) has called his section ‘Death of Magic’ and has created a graveyard to give the show an eerie look, plus there is one room made in the shape of a cross, another with the human body in 3-D, there are exhibits in glass, digital photographs….
The Jehangir Art Gallery, I know has seen some unusual and even outrageous exhibitions in the past. But none to challenge Goenka’s for the sheer audacity of its unusual approach to art. He’s been planning it for a year having booked the space (“all four galleries”) a long while back. “It’s an interesting show,” he said, “though I had to be careful that censorship laws are not crossed. That was a pity! But also a challenge, because I wanted the show to happen, and shock and surprise often lend to areas of objection.
And, you will see the disconnected and disproportionate come together with a sense of awe. Some of the younger artists have done this sort of work before. Conventional paintings are their bread and butter. But when you delve deep into their minds…”
That is what sets Goenka apart from others interested in art. He is intrigued by what goes on in the minds of the artists. Each has a different take on why they create art and what their interpretation is. “To me, that is an important part of discovery,” he revealed. Why is he giving Mumbai, which is a glutton for the bizarre, a show like A Maz Ing?” Art is no longer as pure as it was, money greed has overtaken its purity, and I’m looking at how to reach art to the common person,” he said. Other exhibitions take 33 percent from the sales, but Goenka is giving the artist full 100 percent, besides taking care of all the costs. “Forget the cost, just the planning and creating space was a mammoth task. Don’t you think so?” he asked.
Yes, a-maz-ing, I replied.


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