REVIEW: Everyone Smiles in the Same Language / Artodontics / Taj Art Gallery / Sushma Sabnis
A Smile is communication, like Art. Art has the power to reach out, invoke thought and encourage dialogue, just like a Smile. A group of dentists dedicated to put healthy smiles on people, put down their dental drills for a while and took up art, only to realise that everyone smiles in the same language.. observes Sushma Sabnis
For generations Art has been seen primarily as a luxury for documenting royal households or religious outfits limiting it to aristocracy or religion dowsed in elitism. The Renaissance period changed this and art became for the people, of the people and by the people. The peasant and working class got equal representation as the subject of interest for an artist as much as kings/queens or popes of any place. Outmoded discriminatory values gave way to modern thinking which carried forward into the industrial revolution bringing about new thought, new mediums, a fresh discourse into the purpose of art itself and a new scientifically experimentative artist. In contemporary times art has been proven to be more a necessity than earlier assumed, as art has now become a therapeutic apparatus to get through tribulations in a demanding world of stress inducing occupations.
There are many factors which contribute to generate an inherent appeal of art making in human beings. Since prehistoric times, art has evolved from a leisurely activity to a more social, political and cultural necessity in contemporary times, where it voices numerous concerns, builds the society and world around with its poignant messages. Art’s intention is to put forth a view which one considers of relevance visually as it becomes the simplest of communicable methods. It can also be seen as an act of liberation of chosen thoughts as they are formed and experienced within the mind. Thoughts of overwhelming emotions, quiet contemplation, appreciative gestures, an unnoticed suppression; sometimes a respite, a reprimand or a painful surrender; these emotions are canopied under restrained responses like ‘no, yes, maybe’ for survival in a society relying heavily on political correctness in everything, not just in spoken language.
These thoughts emerge, take shape and are filtered through the multiple screens of propriety, before getting voiced or silenced as per the need of the moment. Millions of neurological impulses are nipped in the bud before they relay it to neighbouring messengers within the brain. The mind has its own ability to device stress releases and one unique show recently held at the Taj Art gallery, Mumbai was ample proof of the therapeutic aspects of Art.
The debut show ’Artodontics’ founded and curated by Dr Vaishali Das, is also an art platform created exclusively as a space for dentists to display their art works. As unique as the title of the venture, so is the concept behind the spectacular show which introduced the art works of 22 (!!) dentists from all over India. It is often heart warming to witness the blend of two disparate strains of knowledge, art and science coming together like long lost siblings for a family function as it did at Artodontics.
Talking at the show about the need for such a platform, Dr Das, a Mumbai based oral and maxillofacial surgeon whose works are also on display, revealed the hidden pressures involved in being a practicing dentist, where the lives of the patient are dependent on them. The demands of such a responsible position weighs more heavy when the doctor continuously witnesses the patient’s pain. ‘It effects us in a lot of ways to meet patients in excruciating pain throughout the day; that kind of stress needs a release and painting for me is that release’. Dr Das paints as often as she could as do most of the arto-dentists who are participating in the show. Her works are figurative renditions of her emotional, imaginative and feminine responses to the world around her. She seeks solace in nature and most of her works indicate the presence of water which flows into the lives of the viewers.
Speaking of water-bodies and landscapes, Dr Ankeeta Khadilkar of Mumbai works in soft pastels on paper. Dr Khadilkar is a practicing Paediatric and preventive dentist with a spiritual outlook to the world. Her soulful side is evidenced in the nature related landscapes and seascapes she deftly captures in her medium of choice. Perspective matters to Dr Khadilkar and her works reflect this aspect completely.
Dr Kalyani Trivedi from Gandhinagar whose interests vary from music and dance to visual arts, has contributed in numerous ways to the pedagogy of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopaedics. In her works on display, she tries to capture nuances of apparent strength of rural women and the femininity and dignity exuding therein.
Dr Hina Rena a dentist from Jamnagar has been a hobby artist and also engages with the female form in her works in acrylic, however, they seem to be more emancipated and western in depiction while exuding a soulful aura.
Hyderabad based dental surgeon, Dr Amrita Gandhi is a prolific artist with several art shows and publications to her credit. She is also interested in conducting art workshops and her art has travelled the globe. In her display she brings out the feminist who survives in today’s society, modelled by her friend’s daughter, in various free and bold portrayals of the millennial and post millennial woman.
Another artist and dentist from Jamnagar, Dr Gopi Tatamiya, proves that art and science can coexist very well in one person, as she displays her vibrantly coloured figurative works. The hues reflect an Indian-ness which is often seen in the parts of the country that she inhabits. She relaxes with art as nature becomes her muse.
The lure of the mesmerising Lord Krishna, has Dr Hema Sangani in its raptures as she paints images of Shrinathji with the verve of a traditional Nathdwara painting. The works are embedded in narratives of the deity and the rituals performed in every season. Dr Sangani does not however limit herself to traditional art but also dabbles in contemporary figuration along with a roaring dentistry practice in Botad.
Dr Utsavi Shah Ved from Mumbai performs a balancing act as her dentistry practice and art pursuits demand equal time and attention from this busy-bee. What’s interesting is that she manages to make time for both her deep interests in the din of city life. Her works are spontaneous and vibrantly coloured reflecting her persona.
Another young dentist, Dr Ruchi Shah is pursuing her Masters degree in Paediatric and Preventive Dentistry and loves to experiment with vivid hues. She believes in the power of bringing to life black canvas using colour, just like art resurrects individuals from the dark depths of depression. Her emerald Buddha on display drives this point home.
Dr Shruti Deshmukh Kadam is a young dentist from Mumbai who also has a penchant for sketching since childhood, which has simultaneously been honed alongside her academic education in dentistry. Her works are figurative and realistic in visual and also have a flair for delicate lines.
In this show, there are other arto-dentists who have displayed a tremendous control over the line, the aesthetic of the subject and done ample justice in terms of skill and concept. Dr Priyanka Parsawala Pandhi, a practicing arto-dentist from Mumbai has intricate mandala designed works on display. The concept of making mandala is derived from Tibetan monasteries where the monks create mandalas with coloured sand depicting the life of Buddha. Upon completion, the entire mandala is swept away and destroyed, to emphasise the fragility of life itself. Dr Parsawala Pandhi’s works have a digital feel though they are rendered painstakingly by hand. They mirror the precision control of a dentist’s hand, and the dextrousness of an artist’s hand.The works emanate the sharp intense mind of this artist.
Another Mumbai based arto-dentist, Dr Trupti Malpani, aims to capture people’s souls in her works. With a deep affinity with monochrome/black and white, she displays her observations of human forms and their beauty in her drawing works. Faces, eyes, veiled visages dominate her compositions.
Dr Raghavendra Ashtaputre hails from the art historically significant environs of Aurangabad. With a keen interest in sculpture making alongside his dentistry practice, he has created Ganesh idols for the annual Ganesh festival. He now creates the embodiment of the most beloved and versatile of deities with a simple mound fo clay. This dentist and sculptor has a lot of show in the form of his artistic pursuit as the Ganesh idol at the show is rendered in all its regal simplicity, in the act of reading – an activity that ensures gaining knowledge.
Dr Sunanda Pradhan from Pune, has taken wholly to art, painting be specific after three decades of dentistry practice. Her skills as an artist have been honed by her intent observations skills and it is quite easy to witness the union of the skill and subject her brilliant canvases. Be they stilllifes, plants and flowers, Dr Pradhan excels at rendering them as she sees them realistically.
Dr Niyati Patel from Mumbai is moved by nature, especially seascapes. In her art works, she tries to play with the shape of the canvas itself to begin with and then plunges into the abstraction of nature’s seascapes. Her works stand out for their attention to detail and the technique of decoupage that is employed by the introduction fo sand, and other objects to the surface to give a depth-relief for the composition.
Mumbai based Dr Khyati Kapadia toggles between her passion for line drawing and fixing smiles as a practicing dentist. The works that Dr Kapadia presents in the show are portraits of famous personalities like Marilyn Monroe, Mother Theresa, etc to name a few. It is rendered in the most sensitive and delicate of ways and the artist’s control over the free hand drawing line is evident in the strokes of confidence.
What happens when art meets science and further joins an esoteric belief system like astrology; the artist-dentist Dr Prajakta Kale from Mumbai manifests in all her multitalented glory on canvas at the show. This artist and dentist is also a qualified astrologer and hones her kundalis, brushes and colours to relieve people not just of their tooth aches, but their heart aches as well. Charts, diagrams and religious deities all culminate in her canvases where, positivity is the primary goal for creation and tranquility.
Change is the essence of creation and evolution of human life, seems to be Dr Manish Ranade’s belief as he engages in art and conservative dentistry with equal passion and verve. The medium of art creation is a motivational factor for this arto-dentist as he has been working in both fields for nearly 25 years. From figuration to abstraction, his works trace the journey of a seeker and adventurer of art.
Talking of adventure, the soft spoken Dr Mugdha Todankar from Mumbai presents some of the most enjoyable visuals of wildlife in her charcoal on paper works. With an acute attention to detail, perspective, form and mood, her works on display stole the show. The play of light and dark, ‘chiaroscuro’ as it is termed in art historical terms has been mastered by this atto-dentist and the works revel in an aura of intense dedication.
Another arto-dentist participating in the show is Dr Kanhoba Keluskar from Belgaum, who has an eye for wildlife photography and has chosen to display some of his intense captures in the show. The macro and the micro get blurred with the perspectives chosen by the arto-dentist and pedagogue who is also the Dean of the faculty of Dentistry. He encourages the students to join him on his numerous trips to wildlife sanctuaries and parks to witness the magnanimity of life.
Another adventurer of the show is Dr Dishali Patel from Mumbai who participates in the show with her mixed media paintings. Some of her works on display are portraitures of personalities of the Indian continent, while some mixed media landscape work on display is an imagery of the Taj Mahal within a light box display. The medium seemingly translucent inks or paints on absorbent substrate captures the minute details of the edifice depicted in the work. There seems to be a passionate streak in Dr Patel for exploration of new mediums such as light and movement and it is evident in her new works at the show.
One of the novel art works on display are presented by Dr Ankita Deshmukh, a practicing dentist from Mumbai. Oriental culture has greatly influenced this atto-dentist and her works are small sized origami kimono clad Japanese figures placed against a typical Japanese textile design background on paper. These works are a treat to look at and bring out the sensitive nature of Japanese culture which even cutting paper is avoided to create a work of art.
Artodontics the show and the platform is a first of its kind of art platform for dentists who are artists in their own right. We live in a multifaceted world of today, especially with the advent of globalisation and competition reaching new highs, doctors who are artists, artists who are scientists, becomes more a necessity than a fad. The focus changes from a clinic to studio and vice versa. As the perspective changes so does the ability to imagine and create. Dentistry is an art and engineering vocation in its own right as it involves three separate strains of aesthetics, knowledge and skill to create the perfect healthy smile, much like creating the perfectly articulated work of art that evokes a dialogue with the viewer without even using words. The purpose of bringing art, science and many other strains of an aesthetical experience together is to create that one wholesome individual who could experience freedom of speech and articulation devoid of judgement. Artodontics succeeded at this goal. Platforms like Artodontics also help make art accessible at many levels by the connoisseur and lay persons alike, as it opens up the doors of interpretation. The show Artodontics was on view from 20-22nd December 2019 at Taj Art gallery. One could look forward to sink their teeth into the next annual Artodontics show soon.
(Images Courtesy – Dr Vaishali Das)