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Bold Pact at PAC

New gallery brings contemporary Indian art to Cincinnati

By Matt Morris · April 15th, 2009 · Visual Art
Considering the state of the economy, it might seem daring for a new commercial gallery dedicated to contemporary art to open its doors. But the brand new PAC Gallery in East Walnut Hills, set for a grand opening 5-8 p.m. Saturday, is not only opening but also devoting its first show to contemporary art from India.

The gallery is the newest venture of Phyllis Weston and Annie Bolling Rangeley, of Weston-Bolling Gallery in O’Bryonville, and third partner Cate Yellig, a recent MFA graduate in Art History from the University of Cincinnati. PAC stands for Phyllis, Annie and Cate. PAC is comprised of two rooms with large banks of windows, clean white walls and severe black ceilings and floors.

The opening exhibition is Metamorphosis: Change and Continuity in Indian Contemporary Art, curated by Radha Chandrashekaran and Meena Vari. Chandrashekaran is based in Cincinnati but is currently a visiting faculty member at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bangalore, India, where Vari is an events coordinator.

To gain firsthand experience with the artists, Yellig joined Chandrashekaran on a journey to India.

“It’s an incredibly, beautifully terrifying place — an assault on the senses,” she says via e-mail. “Fourteen artists were selected to show in PAC, a mixture of several very established painters and a number of ‘emerging artists,’ all of whom use art to look at a world that is changing rapidly around them.

“What we found as the exhibition manifested (itself) is that recurring themes like urbanization and globalization are not only relevant in India but the United States.”

Murali Cheeroth is one of the established painters in the exhibition who will be coming to Cincinnati for the show. His paintings make use of intense panoplies of spicy pinks, reds and greens. Cheeroth grew up in the Communist state of Kerala and currently lives and works in Bangalore. He borrows widely recognized images that reflect his contemplations on politics, industrialization and globalization. In “Unmarked 2,” a statue of Vladimir Lenin stands before a streaky, futuristic field of rich color. In “Unmarked 9,” he juxtaposes a strong right arm and industrial architecture with dense vine patterning in bright green. Yellig observed that Cheeroth’s works reference the Russian Social Realist paintings that Weston-Bolling Gallery regularly exhibits.

The noticeable exception to the generally high-keyed exhibition is the gentle, oozing paintings of Amitesh Shrivastava. In “Evaporator,” a crouching figure dwarfs little horizon lines that run out from loopy abstract marks and signs of industrial collapse. His works are modulated in soft muddy greens, rusts and the colors of bruises. Their quietude invites longer experiences than other works in the exhibition.

For now, PAC is only committing to two or three exhibitions each year, although the owners “intend on going the way of the art fair circuit,” Yellig says. PAC has already participated in the Bridge Art Fair in New York and will be at Art Chicago in May. And it will not necessarily concentrate on contemporary Indian art beyond this show.

The gallery has also teamed up with ArtWorks Gallery and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation to make its celebration of Indian art a citywide event. It will coincide with the Krohn Conservatory’s annual butterfly show, also opening Saturday and with a theme of Butterflies of India. Some of the artists in PAC’s inaugural show will also be included in a connected exhibition at ArtWorks, opening April 25, that additionally will feature two artists from the Patuan Tribe of West Bengal.

PAC GALLERY’s grand opening reception, featuring the exhibition Metamorphosis, is 5-8 p.m. Saturday at 2540 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills. Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.


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