Brush with Ge­nius

The In­dia To­day Art Awards were a cel­e­bra­tion of artists and en­thu­si­asts who con­stantly push bound­aries to cre­ate and cu­rate path-break­ing work, blend­ing gen­res and gen­er­a­tions

India Today - - ART AWARDS - By As­mita Bakshi

Veteran artist Satish Gu­jral sat next to his wife, Ki­ran Gu­jral, the two a pic­ture of roy­alty. Those in at­ten­dance hov­ered—heads bowed and hands ex­tended—around the win­ner of the Life­time Achieve­ment Award at the sec­ond edi­tion of the In­dia To­day Art Awards held in New Delhi on Feb­ru­ary 5. Gu­jral gra­ciously met all who came to see him, shak­ing hands and recit­ing sha­yari that was fit­ting for the oc­ca­sion. The 91-year-old icon ruled the room, just as he does the world of art. Match­ing Gu­jral’s zest for both life and art was the ST+ART team, which has trans­formed pub­lic spa­ces in cities into art gal­leries—cu­rat­ing and cre­at­ing art­work on the walls of Delhi’s Lodhi Colony, and a hard-to-miss mu­ral of Dadasa­heb Phalke in Mum­bai, among other feats. ST+ART was hon­oured with the Street Art Ini­tia­tive of the Year Award.

In the room that re­sounded with ques­tions on art, ab­stract in na­ture as well as pointed

“Like news, art is a con­ver­sa­tion of the times we live in” Aroon Purie Chair­man and ed­i­tor-in-chief, In­dia To­day

in in­tent, was Nada Raza, who had cu­rated a ret­ro­spec­tive of the late artist Bhu­pen Khakhar, at Tate Mod­ern in Lon­don last year. For Khakhar, known for his provoca­tive fig­u­ra­tions and ever-rel­e­vant rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, mor­tal­ity and the strug­gle with dis­ease through art, the Ret­ro­spec­tive Ex­hi­bi­tion of the Year Award was an apt trib­ute.

The cer­e­mony saw a min­gling of gen­er­a­tions, gen­res and el­e­ments of the art world. De­sign­ers Ar­jun Saluja and Sa­mant Chauhan were present, as were Ra­jan Anan­dan, vice-pres­i­dent of Google in South­east Asia and In­dia, and wife Rad­hika Cho­pra Anan­dan, phi­lan­thropist, art pa­tron, en­tre­pre­neur, and also mem­ber of the In­dia To­day Art Awards jury. The other jury mem­bers in­cluded Aroon Purie, in­dia to­day chair­man and ed­i­tor-in-chief; Rekha Purie, chair­per­son, Vas­ant Val­ley School and art col­lec­tor; Aman Nath, hote­lier and writer, Amin Jaf­fer, in­ter­na­tional di­rec­tor of Asian Art at Christie’s, and Hugo Weihe, CEO, Saf­fronart.

Con­tem­po­rary artist Su­bodh Gupta, who is work­ing

on an am­bi­tious 70-ft in­stal­la­tion of a fly­ing dragon in Ben­galuru, ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with the jury’s pick of the awardees. He was sec­onded by Veer Mun­shi, artist from Kash­mir. Mun­shi and oth­ers lauded the jury for recog­nis­ing the path-find­ing work at the ac­claimed, on­go­ing Kochi Muziris Bi­en­nale 2016 through the Artist of the Year Award be­stowed upon Sudarshan Shetty. “What does it mean to be con­tem­po­rary? What does it mean to be to­gether in time?” asked Shetty, as he ac­cepted the hon­our, show­ing no sign of his sup­posed fear of pub­lic speak­ing.

Shetty’s ques­tions found an­swers in the ses­sion ‘When Art Meets Tech­nol­ogy’ by Si­mon Rein, pro­gramme man­ager at the Google Cul­tural In­sti­tute, Lon­don. Rein be­gan with a jour­ney back in time, re­veal­ing on screen a fe­male fig­urine more than 230,000 years old, de­scrib­ing it as “one of the first art­works ever made”. He spoke about how tech­nol­ogy to­day can help dis­cover, pre­serve and cre­ate art. From mo­bile apps that en­able fact-find­ing through photo recog­ni­tion to the use of vir­tual re­al­ity de­vices (Google Card­board) to ed­u­cate stu­dents about mod­ern his­tory, from cre­at­ing high res­o­lu­tion images of art­works through im­age stitch­ing to the cre­ation of 3D art us­ing vir­tual re­al­ity and “trans­form­ing the in­ter­net into a more cul­tural space”, Rein had the au­di­ence in­trigued and hope­ful in the jour­ney of the two sig­nif­i­cantly di­verse worlds.

Among the other awardees were Himmat Shah, a man of few words and sev­eral ac­com­plished works. Shah won Solo Ex­hi­bi­tion of the Year Award, for Ham­mer on the Square at the Ki­ran Nadar Mu­seum of Art, Delhi. Artist Neha Choksi, who dar­ingly keeps push­ing the en­ve­lope—her reper­toire in­cludes works for which she has lost con­scious­ness, fallen silent for 10 days and sub­merged her­self in a lake—re­ceived the New Me­dia Artist of the Year Award. Choksi was in Los An­ge­les and un­able to at­tend. Also ab­sent but mak­ing their pres­ence felt were cu­ra­tor Natasha Ginwala, who won the award for Emerg­ing Cu­ra­tor of the Year, and Ashish Anand who was cho­sen the Col­lec­tor of the Year.

The sec­ond edi­tion of the In­dia To­day Art Awards re­flected the grow­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the arts, as they emerge out of tra­di­tional spa­ces and pro­lif­er­ate—on the streets, through mo­bile apps and in nu­mer­ous other forms. In his ad­dress, Aroon Purie sought to dis­tin­guish art from the world of news busi­ness, terming the for­mer as “time­less, the best for which has no ex­piry date” and the other as “timely”. “Like news, art is a con­ver­sa­tion of the times we live in; what makes it age­less is a qual­ity we are cel­e­brat­ing to­day,” said Purie. “When so­ci­ety starts tak­ing in­ter­est in the world of art, that for me is a sign of great progress.”

MANY COLOURS OF SUC­CESS Re­cip­i­ents of the In­dia To­day Art Awards with chair­man and ed­i­tor-in-chief Aroon Purie and Rekha Purie

Yuriko Lochan. Ramesh Sharma and Uma Ga­jap­athi Raju and Aryan­ish Pa­tel Am­bar Pariddi Sa­hai and Sa­mant Chauhan Raj Chen­gappa and Neha Kir­pal Sudarshan Shetty, Himmat Shah and Nada Raza Rekha Purie and Sudarshan Shetty

SI­MON REIN CALLED FOR “TRANS­FORM­ING THE IN­TER­NET INTO A MORE CUL­TURAL SPACE”

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