Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to EyeContact. You are invited to respond to reviews and contribute to discussion by registering to participate.

JH

Panoramically and Chromatically Overpowering Bhana

AA
View Discussion
Bepan Bhana's Frankie Goes to Bollywood as installed at Te Uru. Photo: Sam Hartnett Bepan Bhana's Frankie Goes to Bollywood as installed at Te Uru. Photo: Sam Hartnett Bepen Bhana, Ko Amir Raua Ko Asin I Otitori, Titirangi /Amir Aur Asin Phrenc Khaaree Par, 2016, oil on canvas, split canvas diptych, 1200 x 3600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Bepen Bhana, Ko Deepika Raaua Ko Shahrukh, Maukaatia, Muriwai / Deepika Aur Shahrukh Maori Khari, Muriwai Par, 2016, oil on canvas, split canvas diptych, 1200 x 3600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Bepen Bhana, Ko Salman Raua Ko Jacqueline i Te Waonui-A-Tiriwa /Salman Aur Jacqueline Waitakere Jalaashay Par, 2016, oil on canvas, split canvas diptych, 1200 x 3600 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett

The combination of Bollywood visages with Auckland coastline vistas means that if these paintings were shown in an Indian city, Aotearoa would acquire an exoticism as a potential film site. However shown in Titirangi as they are, that meaning is not apparent - for the sites are too geographically close to the gallery. (If they were Otago or Southland landscapes the readings might be different.)

Auckland

 

Bepen Bhana
Frankie goes to Bollywood

 

13 February - 15 May 2016

With these eight diptyches Bepen Bhana continues a theme he has been exploring for several years now with paintings and hoardings, that of romantic heterosexual love and landscape backdrops, only now they are more panoramic (ie. longer horizontally) and overtly referencing of the film (especially Bollywood film) industry - using stars and promotional billboard proportions. And with the carefully chosen actors and actresses (as glamorous ‘couples’) we have West Auckland coastal scenes and lush green vegetation, hot burnt sienna rock faces, and saturated blue skies. They are more visually ‘excessive’ than his earlier more natural permutations.

The gorgeous couples in a sense are in competition with their seductive backdrops. The paintings are imposing in size with their wide vistas, and the stars are not only handsome but also pale skinned, not because of any identificatory emulation of Caucasian culture outside of India (a possible theory), but because the disproportionately influential Brahmin caste is usually paler, and fair skins are regarded as more attractive than dark.

The combination of Bollywood visages with Auckland coastline vistas means that if these paintings were shown in an Indian city, Aotearoa would acquire an exoticism as a potential film site. However shown in Titirangi as they are, that meaning is not apparent - for the sites are too geographically close to the gallery. (If they were Otago or Southland landscapes the readings might be different.) However the bringing of Bollywood to West Auckland intrigues in a different sense because it is an inflection on the notion of ‘home’, that space now seeming to be validated by images from afar. The geographic mingling superficially puts an ‘Indian’ stamp on these beaches.

As painted statements it is tempting to wonder what the two sorts of component would be like separated in isolation, because their synthesis is uneasy. We don’t see the couples actually standing on the earth of each site, only heads, shoulders and torsos in front of the ‘artificially’ positioned backdrops. And the landscapes do dominate. It could be argued that as spectacle they upstage the attractiveness of the celebrity actors.

Of course I’m only speaking for myself here, as someone familiar with the painting of say Canterbury painter William Sutton (famous for his large panoramas of the Port Hills) and ignorant of the nuances of Bollywood, but an Auckland Indian audience could read these images very differently, recognising the actors immediately and remembering various productions they have been involved with, the narratives involved, and not being remotely interested in regionalist landscape painting traditions.

Bepen Bhana obviously knows this. His titles, avoiding English translations but using Hindi and Te Reo, swing the focus towards Hindi and Maori audiences who will be aware of the context of the personalities, or the pre-European landscapes devoid of western architecture - and so the work doesn’t mingle the two cultural perspectives. His overlaying is openly based on collage so that the actors remain like cut-out stage props - chimeras that dissolve in the overwhelming presence of the land.

John Hurrell

Print | Facebook | Twitter | Email

 

Recent Posts by John Hurrell

JH
Richard Bryant, Link, 2019, acrylic on panel, 300 x 350 mm

Richard Bryant Paintings

IVAN ANTHONY GALLERY

Auckland

 

Richard Bryant
The Circle and the Seal

 

28 August - 21 September 2019

JH
Installation of Anh Tran's And then, one day, my love, you come out of eternity, at Artspace Aotearoa. Photo: Andrea Christache

Emerging Artists at Artspace

ARTSPACE AOTEAROA

Auckland

 

Daniel John Corbett Sanders, Anh Trần

First part of 4/4


31 August - 28 September 2019

 

JH
Installation detail of Patrick Lundberg's exhibition 'In the vastness of Sorrowful thoughts' at Ivan Anthony.

Patrick Lundberg’s Wall ‘Slots’

IVAN ANTHONY GALLERY

Auckland

 

Patrick Lundberg
In the Vastness of Sorrowful Thoughts


28 August - 21 September 2018

JH
Tomislav Nikolic, pay the prophets to justify your reason, 2018 - 2019, mixed media.

Tomislav Nikolic: Eight Paintings

FOX JENSEN MCCRORY

Auckland

 

Tomislav Nikolic
pay the prophets to justify your reasons

 

15 August - 14 September 2019