Sutapa Biswas, Birdsong, 2004, 16mm film. Photo: Toby Glanville.
Birdsong, on show at the Angel Row Gallery in Nottingham until November 6, offers the chance to view two stunning new films by Sutapa Biswas.
Over the past 17 years Indian-born artist Biswas has built a reputation for creating intensely evocative and challenging work that explores notions of feminism and cultural identity.
According to Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, "Sutapa Biswas makes an art of caustic beauty. For two decades her sharp eye and sure hand have worked to bring together the political and the aesthetic."
This international touring exhibition is the result of a co-commission by inIVA and Film and Video Umbrella and marks a pivotal moment in Biswas practice as a mid-career artist.
Comprised of two new films exploring memory and rites of passage, the work shows how her ideas have sharpened, consolidated and been transfigured.
Sutapa Biswas Untitled (Bird Drawing), 2003.
Born in Santinekethan, India in 1962, Sutapa Biswas currently lives and works in London. Her work has been shown across the world and she has had solo exhibitions in, among other places, Los Angeles, Ontario, London and Leeds.
Having initially established herself in the 1980s as a painter, Biswas transition to the moving image is informed by a strong painterly aesthetic.
Her work draws on a variety of literary and visual sources, from Marcel Proust and psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon, to paintings by George Stubbs and Edward Hopper.
In Birdsong she has created a film tableau in which a horse is shown in a domestic interior. It stands in a fully-furnished living room motionless except for subtle movements of its body.
The heavy physical presence of the horse establishes a tension both with the small origami winged horse, suspended like a mobile in accompanying shots and the child himself, who sits vulnerably close by.
Sutapa Biswas, Birdsong, 2004, Film Still.
We see it through the eyes of the child, whose dream it is to have a horse living in his house, giving Biswas the chance to address the impossibility of dream and desire.
Birdsong is joined by Magnesium Bird, a well-crafted film shot in the 18th century walled garden at Harewood House in Leeds.
Addressing notions of loss, love and apprehension, the film shows a series of small birds sculpted from magnesium ribbon as they are ignited at dusk. In the background, young children playing in an orchard disrupt the poetic stillness.
If you want to get an expert’s view on the show, you can join curator Bruce Haines on October 13 from 13.00 to 14.00 for a free exhibition tour.
Or get along to the gallery on October 20 from 13.00 until 14.00 when Sutapa Biswas herself will be in conversation with art historian and writer Jean Wainwright.