New show charts out the fu­ture of In­dian art through works of mas­ters and novices

An on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at Delhi’s Art Alive Gallery pro­vides a com­mon plat­form to dis­tin­guished mas­ters and emerg­ing artists from across In­dia. speaks to the or­gan­is­ers, as well as to the par­tic­i­pants, about the vi­sion be­hind the show.

The Sunday Guardian - - Artbeat -

painted in red ap­pear to be walk­ing be­side trees.

Ar t NOW 1 7 ’ a l s o fa­mil­iarises vis­i­tors with paint­ings of the renowned Hy­der­abad- based artist Thota Vaikun­tam, who is known for his cre­ative en­gage­ment with ru­ral cul­tures. In his paint­ing, ti­tled Woman with Par­rot, where a par­rot is seen sit­ting on the palm of a woman who is draped in a yel­low sari. One can see his pref­er­ence for em­ploy­ing pri­mary colours. In an un­dated in­ter­view, he had said, “I don’t like us­ing colours that the four Vaikun­tam can­vases dis­played at the show are re­plete with ba­sic colours and im­agery of vil­lage life.

Guardian 20 caught up with Vaikun­tam to talk about the on­go­ing show and his lat­est paint­ings. He said that he owes a large part of his suc­cess to renowned artist K.G. Subra­manyan. “Dur­ing the start of my ca- ra­manyan] ex­plained to me the im­por­tance of my roots. I un­der­stood that there were lots of rich cul­tures like the­atre, mu­sic and so on in my vil­lage, which is Bu­rugu­palli in Te­langna,” said Vaikun­tam.

He said that he has al­ways felt a cer­tain sense of obli­ga­tion to have his can­vases re­flect In­dia’s ru­ral life. “Vil­lage peo­ple are very sim­ple. I though it is my duty to bring these to the can­vases. But nowa­days artists don’t touch vil­lages,” added Vaikun­tam. The best part of Art NOW 17’ is that along­side high­light­ing the greats of In­dian art, it has cre­ated space for many young and emerg­ing artists. The show, in a sense, marks the path ahead for con­tem­po­rary In­dian art, and es­tab­lishes how young artists are open to ex­per­i­ment­ing with a range of themes in their bid to carry for­ward the legacy of the mas­ters.

In the neo­phyte sec­tion, there were names like Baiju Parthan, Ma­ha­laxmi Karn, Shan­tanu Das, and Narayan Chan­dra Sinha among oth­ers.

Sinha’s work in par­tic­u­lar of­fers a com­men­tary on con­sumer so­ci­ety. He feels strongly that hu­man emo­tions should get pri­macy in an oth­er­wise ma­te­ri­al­is­tic so­ci­ety. In one of his sculp­tures, ti­tled Cel­e­bra­tion, the artist uses the con­cept of stick fig­ures. Sinha says, “Through my sculp­tures, I wanted to con­vey that there is a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion which we have from our­selves or which the so­ci­ety lays down upon us, which turns a man into a ma­chine. But as hu­man be­ings, one should not for­get to cel­e­brate life or over­look the ba­sic emo­tions our life is made up of.”

Ma­ha­laxshmi Karn and Shan­tanu Das have worked­to­gether on a paint­ing, ti­tled Ko­hbar and the two Naina Jo­gins. Here the artists have given their vari­a­tion on Ko­hbar—a form of Mad­hubani paint­ing of­ten done on the walls of the room of new­ly­wed cou­ples to bless them. Karn said, “Though styles in Mad­hubani art are di­vided along caste lines, we have tried fus­ing the colour and line styles to recre­ate and rein­ter­pret this mo­tif which is rou­tinely done for the wed­ding on the walls. We have tried to bring new colours to make it more com­mu­nica­tive and vi­brant.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion brings the nar­ra­tive of con­tem­po­rary folk art to the fore­front. “As an emerg­ing artist, it is cru­cial to have a plat­form to make your pres­ence felt. Also for a folk artist, the com­mon per­cep­tion is that of a craftsper­son who con­tinue to re­peat what he or she de­rives from the tra­di­tion with­out much thought. The imag­i­na­tion and creativity in­volved in mak­ing the art­work are of­ten over­looked. That is why when the gallery that nor­mally deals with mod­ern artists opens its doors for us folk artists, it is a good sign and en­cour­age­ment too,” said Karn.

“Through my sculp­tures, I wanted to con­vey that there is a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion which we have from our­selves or which the so­ci­ety lays down upon us, which turns a man into a ma­chine. But as hu­man be­ings, one should not for­get to cel­e­brate life or over­look the ba­sic emo­tions our life is made up of,” says Narayan Chan­dra Sinha.

Art NOW 17’ is on view un­til 15 Jan­uary

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