The Vis-a-Vis Gallery and Rado sponsored a modest but most interesting show that opened on November 26. It consists of the crystal sculptures of Atul Bakshi, who was an officer in the merchant navy and later an architect and Denise Hudon from Montreal who has worked on various forms of paper-fusion objects. Both these artists, interestingly have travelled widely and been exposed to varied aesthetic influences over the years.
If Atul, a church restorer, was moved by the crystal and stained glass of Europe, Hudon was impressed by the colours, dyes and objects of West Africa, reminding us that borders and limitations on the movements of humanity across the world that is increasingly becoming smaller is criminal. After all, if all kinds of commodities and services are to flow freely across borders why not humanity?
The art of both Hudon and Bakshi is living proof of what human beings free to travel can produce by assimilating the common heritage of mankind. As a result, it is a powerful weapon for a civilised movement to scrap the barbaric immigration laws while pressurising the world for the free flow of all commodities except labour power.
Hudon's work reflects the traces of humanity as the milestones of the human presence. This is most surprising for a North American who has grown up in a society based on genocide which accompanied European colonisation and still pervades the intervention of Europe in countries like Iraq. The sensitive mind can therefore only atone for this savagery by putting traces before our eyes, echoing Shelley's lament: ``Look on this ye mighty and despair!''Atul represents the other side of the coin: the art of those who survived and threw out colonial powers. It is not surprising that his Bald Boy looks very much like Gandhi or his Farm Land has a proud and dignified bearing.
Even where only a trace is left, as of the Incas of Peru, Bakshi's post-colonial art is even able to give these traces substance, reminding one that despite the best efforts of the developed at Seattle, the advanced countries only hold the graveyards of civilisation while the life-force of humanity has percolated down to some other place. But it is the quantity of art that brings both these opposing trends together and harmonises them in the same space at the same time.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.