Bricks and Mortar

20 September 2008 to 30 September 2008

Venue: Hacienda Gallery

Hours: 11 am to 6 pm

View works on display

Exhibition Information

Bricks and Mortar

THE idea of ‘Bricks and Mortar’ came to me when I read Joel Kotkin’s insightful book The City, which is an account of urban life across the world, and the rise and fall of cities. Some cities were built around religious places, other were defined by industries, technology and business, and the book narrates how some of the great cities developed. “The evolution of cities,” Kotkin wrote in the book, “embodies the story of humanity as it rose from primitive origins to impose itself on the world.

A city shapes its people; and its people shape the cities they live in. We are inspired and influenced, for better or for worse, by the cities we live in; and in return we provide it character, culture and attitude. This is why bigger cities tend to reflect their diversity by being cosmopolitan, while smaller ones retain more of their original character.

Think of a city of today and the images that come to mind are of the towering buildings of commerce, the cultural hubs, even malls. They reflect development and aspiration, and how the world has changed. In ancient times cities were built around temples and places of worship. Now commerce lies at the heart of most cities, echoing ancient religion by evoking the same sense of power and grandeur with its architectural constructions. And yet, this is not all cities are, for we often see the reflections of slums or buildings falling apart on the snazzy glass fronts of our modern temples. Cities contain multitudes.

Artists are inspired by the world they see around them. There are diverse ways in which urban life is portrayed in visual art. This eclectic group examines urban life through impressions of its architecture. Their work isn’t just about physical space, though, but explores the undercurrents of our psyche, for those are as much constructions of our cities as the buildings around us. In their own ways, these artists explore the contradictions in our cities, and within us. Our cities contain hope and hopelessness in equal measure. They enable freedom yet can be a trap. They have a historical past, a vibrant present – and yet, there are worrying questions about its future. What do the artists make of it all?

The idea of this show is not to be judgmental about our cities but to be observers of them. Good art does not consist of slogans or ideology, but tries to reflect the times in all its complexity. We hope you enjoy the show, and, perhaps, recognise yourself and your city in it.

Jasmine Shah Varma