Calder in India

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Calder in India
© 2012 Calder Foundation, New York/DACS, London 2012. Photography Mike Bruce
Calder in India, installation shot at Ordovas, 2012.

'Calder in India' seems to offer one of those enticing, 'who knew?' strands of biography but in fact it is part of a much wider story of modernism in the Subcontinent. When Alexander Calder travelled from America to Ahmedabad in 1955, at the invitation of his patrons the Sarabhai family, he was following the likes of Isamu Noguchi, Le Corbusier and Henri Cartier-Bresson (in turn John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg would follow Calder).

He arrived in January, not wanting to miss the kite-flying festival, and stayed for three months, producing nine sculptures as well as jewellery. This labour-of-love of an exhibition reunites eight of the works, which haven't been seen in public since the year they were made, along with two related sculptures – including the diminutive 'Six Moons over a Mountain', which Calder sent to his hosts ahead of his trip as a kind of visiting card. The show impresses mightily, even if it begs the question: 'what effect did India actually have on Calder's art?'.

Titles like 'Franji Pani' and 'Guava' are evocative, but geographical and historical circumstances recede in the presence of works that, as with the best modernist abstraction, create their own context and impress on their own terms. The ground-floor space, in which Calder's mobiles act as satellites of a large 'stabile', offers a particularly enlivening encounter with different weights and pressures. This is further enriched by the dynamic between the work's physical presence – at close quarters a Calder reveals itself to be an endearingly handmade collection of metal discs and triangles attached ingeniously to wire armatures – and an encompassing constellation of shadows cast on the wall. The viewing experience changes all the time, is always of the moment. For now, this is Calder in Savile Row, and it's great.

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Event website: http://www.ordovasart.com
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