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Apparao Galleries looks to the game of chess for inspiration for its latest exhibit

Of kings and queens and pawns and rooks, the game of chess is a popular one—with local heroes, like grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand, and cultural echoes harking back to the Mahabharatha. And converting it into art form was an idea that had been in Sharan Apparao’s mind for years. “Over 30 years ago, an artiste had created a chess set out of terracotta and  I’d simply loved it. Then a few years ago, a gallery in London had done one with the famous artiste Damien Hirst. The idea kept speaking to me, pushing me into doing this exhibition, The Art of Chess,” says the owner of Apparao Galleries.
With its debut at the Delhi Art Fair in January, the exhibition, which opens in the city on Tuesday, features 20 artistes. “While some of them have used the idea literally, in a decorative way, others have taken an intellectual, even provocative, approach—like Prasanna who used nibs to talk about the battle of words and city-based George K who did several works, including one where all the pieces are white to signify that we never win any battle,” she explains.
For the artists, it was a journey of interpreting the chess board in a variety of ways. “It is an intellectual game that depends on one sense, sight. I wanted to see how things would change if I altered that reality of recognition—if I replaced sight with taste or smell,” says George of his five pieces, which de-construct the game—like a chess board with sugar cubes (each with a different flavour). For local artiste N Ramachandran, newspapers were his inspiration. “We hold them aloft while reading, so the pictures appear vertical. So I made my magnetic chess board vertical—with magnetic pieces—allowing you to hang it on the wall like a painting,” he says, adding that the pieces are finished in gold leaf and newspaper to denote the struggle between society and power.

Check out the others at the gallery, till June 30. Details: 28332226
Surya Praphulla Kumar

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