Shanay Jhaveri, Assistant Curator, South Asia, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, curates Everything we do is music, a brilliant exhibition which explores the influence of music on Indian, Pakistani and American artists, featuring the full spectrum of media: from video work to drawing and installations. It is presented at the Drawing Room in London until 4 March 2018.
Highlights in the exhibition include Indian classical miniature paintings (Ragamalas) juxtaposed with contemporary artists such as Prabhavathi Meppayil, Shahzia Sikander and Dayanita Singh’s work. American artists such as Lee Mullican and Marian Zazeela demonstrate the wider influence of Indian music on western popular and counterculture.
A direct link with Indian music can be seen in a new piece by Michael Müller, produced as he listens to Raga interpretations. The rhythm in his piece is determined by the music itself and its relation to time, to structure and the sequence of the day. This impact can also be traced in Mohan Samant’s vibrant drawings of musicians on view in the exhibition.
Everything we do is music features work that evoke the improvisational aspects of Indian music as expressed by the artisanal copper wire works of Prabhavathi Meppayil. Her artistic practice draws on traditional craft, and values the truth of materials and tools as well as simple forms, colours and shapes. Lines are a leitmotiv in Meppayil’s work and corresponding with Minimalist principles, she expresses the necessity of a work that comes back to the pureness and essence of the material.
Francesco Clemente is featured in the exhibition through abstract works on paper titled the ‘Evening Ragas’ (1992). In these vibrant watercolours, the artist has illustrated the theme of metamorphosis using two colour combinations. As he explains: ‘I used evening raga instead of day because, to my mind, the overall theme was metamorphosis — activities of the mind connected with dreams and sleep. Nonconscious decisions. The images work on variations of this theme and each group is kept together by a mood, flavour, that you keep in mind.’
Image: Francesco Clemente at the Drawing Room, courtesy the Drawing Room and the artist.