| Courtesy Paul Rogers/9W Gallery|
Bombay born artist Rajul Mehta's "Monsoon Wedding" at Paul Rogers Gallery.
By LORI ORTIZ
It is fitting that Rajul Mehta should title her show "Monsoon Wedding." Also the title painting, it points to the works inseparability with a popular film genre. "Monsoon Wedding" is the memorable film that is at least familiar to most of us. Because I saw this film, love marigolds, am a romantic, and dream of the distant, the show appealed to me and this painting a goldenrod fantasy holds particular resonance. The mythical icons that are Mehta's subject give a sense of local color, spice, and character a sort of 'passage to India' on the Bollywood express.
A connection with the subject would very much provide the necessary information and increase appreciation. Bollywood fans, and there are 40,000 in India (says the press release) will no doubt find an entrance to these paintings. And with the spread of Bollywood's appeal, cultural discourse and artistic response follows. Admittedly, the appeal largely mystifies Western audiences, but can we nevertheless latch in some way to the cryptic code of Mehta's paintings? They are the embodiment and progenitors of cultural globalization.
|Exhibition: Monsoon Wedding.|
Paintings by: Rajul Mehta.
| October 12 - November 13, 2004|
Gallery: Paul Rodgers / 9W
529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor
New York NY
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11-6
Phone: (212) 414-9810
If popular film and music is her unifying concept, Mehta has not zeroed in one way to cross media. This thirty-year-old artist with the talent to do most anything, makes paintings that employ a stock of several recognizable solutions and techniques. The painting "Magic Cut III" is a sequence of stills. At the bottom of its wide 'formatted' borders are subtitles loaded with feminist irony. At the top, an intricate horrorvacuous bindi dot pattern is an equally stark contrast to the painting's photorealistic look.
There are several paintings like "Monsoon Wedding" which are pastiches of scenes and symbols. There are photosilkscreened action scenes and portraits with only a few colors. Her surfaces are oily. The slickness and rich pigmentation achieved with homemade colors is viscerally compelling and works to layer old and new, East and West, celluloid, vinyl and paint. This and the richness of her characterizations sets the portraits in the show apart from the flat glamour of Warhol's multiple "Marilyn." The alluring star of "Bombay Dream" is having good clean fun. This embrace of the sensual/sexual can be traced all the way back to Indian stone sculptures of deities carved a few thousand years B.C.
| Courtesy Paul Rogers/9W Gallery|| |
|Bombay Dream|| |
"Monsoon Wedding" and "Sex Guru" satisfy for their mysterious allusion to a narrative interestingly heightened in association with the filmic source. But the story is disappointingly lacking for a public not fluent in Indian popular culture. I wonder where she can go with her subject deeper? And which of the hybrid seeds she plants will bear fruit. At the same time I marvel at the creative combinations she conjures in this limited frame of reference.
|NOVEMBER 16, 2004|
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