Exhibition Title: Whittled Space
Dates: 10 November – 22 December 2017
Address: Akara Art, 1st Floor, 4/5 Churchill Chambers, 32 Mereweather Road, Colaba, Mumbai 400001
Akara Art presents a collection of fifteen works by artist Piraji Sagara tracing his development from the mid 1950s to the early 1990s. Offering insights into a unique facet of post-Independence Indian abstraction, the works on display demonstrate the slow shaping of Sagara’s artistic integrity, the maturing of his skill, and the vibrancy of his themes. The exhibition will be open until 22 December 2017.
Furthering Akara Art’s commitment to bringing somewhat unrecognised yet influential artists to the fore, this exhibition offers a fresh perspective into a relatively unseen trajectory of Indian abstract painting and highlights Sagara’s significant contributions to the contemporary language of Indian art.
Born in Ahmedabad in 1931, Piraji Sagara received both his masters in drawing 1957 and his art masters from the JJ School of Art Bombay in 1960. Exhibited globally in the 1970s and 1980s, Sagara featured at the 1971 Sao Paulo Biennale, alongside shows in Europe and Japan. He is known for his organic, textural works that incorporate collage, wood relief, and visually dramatic sculptural surfaces featuring fragments of metal, glass-beads, embroidery, and paint on blow-torched, burnt and carved wooden boards.
Working in the late 1950s when Indian modernist painters were still discovering their own distinct voices in the context of a new, transforming country that was shedding its colonial skin, Sagara differed distinctly from his contemporaries. He came from a family of traditional wood crafters and consequently his use of material has a significant symbolic component, referencing the traditional, folk and secular aesthetics of his own heritage.
Whilst contemporaries Jyoti Bhatt and Raghav Kaneria documented the changing landscape of Gujarat and rural India through photography, Sagara, appropriated and redefined the visual language of folk culture. His work incorporates deliberate and carefully considered materials, including watercolour, pastel, relief work, ornamental scraps, glass bead fragments, metal and wood, playing with the abstract, whilst conveying a distinct cultural subtext.
Piraji Sagara remains significant in the context of Indian modernism, unlike his contemporaries, his materials and technique are not visual stimulants nor a means to reveal image through process, but instead important artistic metaphors communicating the travails of a dissipating culture.
About Akara Art
Established in 2009 by art collector and consultant Puneet Shah, Akara Art Gallery is an innovative gallery platform that offers fresh perspectives on Indian modern and contemporary art. Set in a picturesque by-lane of Colaba, just a stone’s throw away from the vibrant promenade of the Gateway of India, Akara presents a more holistic offering for collectors, championing high quality but lesser renown artists, alongside Indian masters and internationally acclaimed contemporary artists. The gallery compliments its exhibition programming with a series of engagement initiatives creating opportunities for new and current collectors to engage directly with exhibition works and specific aspects of the gallery’s collection.
About the artist Piraji Sagara
Piraji Sagara was born on 2 February 2, 1931 in Ahmedabad. He received both his masters in drawing and his art masters from the JJ School of Art Bombay in 1960, and later taught drawing. He taught art at the School of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad from 1963 to his retirement, and lived in Ahmedabad until his death in January 2014.
Sagara’s works are exhibited globally featuring at the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil in 1971, the Art Now in India exhibition around Europe 1972-73, and at the Exhibition of Asian Artists by Fukukoma Museum of Art, Tokyo 1979-80. Sagara was also invited to show at the 12th international festival of painters at Cagne Sur-Mer, France in 1980.