Four artists chron­i­cle their ex­pe­ri­ence of In­dian cities in this new ex­hi­bi­tion

Fea­tur­ing paint­ings, sketches, in­stal­la­tion and mixed-me­dia pieces, the on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at Delhi’s Bikaner House is an artis­tic ex­plo­ration of sub­jects like ur­ban­ity and dis­place­ment. At its cen­tre are works by four con­tem­po­rary artists, writes Bhu­mika

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judge this city but mar­velled at the scenes I saw here.”

Khatua’s main in­ter­est is ar­chi­tec­ture. He has put wa­ter­colour cut-outs—for a 3D ef­fect—of ar­chi­tec­tural sketches on his can­vases. Ac­cord­ing to him, Delhi and Odisha are con­nected. “Min­er­als like iron are found in abun­dance in my state and here I see ex­ten­sive use of con­crete bars made with iron at con­struc­tion sites. Sim­i­larly, milk is pro­duced in abun­dance in Odisha but many vil­lagers can’t af­ford it as its price is raised higher the usual. But in Delhi, peo­ple here face no such prob­lems,” says Khatua. He has used Pat­ta­chi­tra and minia­ture styles on the can­vas, jux­ta­pos­ing im­ages of tem­ples, an­i­mals and trees with those of fac­to­ries, ul­tra­mod­ern ma­chin­ery and build­ings which ap­pear fu­tur­is­tic.

An­other par­tic­i­pant in the show, Dhanbad-born artist Biren­der Yadav’s work is very much about the present po­lit­i­cal sce­nario in In­dia. Ac­cord­ing to him, Dhanbad, a city in Jhark­hand, is also a po­lit­i­cal play­ing field just like Delhi. It is a set­ting for polti­cial protests and po­lit­i­cal­lyin­spired vi­o­lence. In his art­works for the show, Yadav uses gun­pow­der ex­tracted from match­sticks as his pri­mary medium. And all his pieces here are made us­ing el­e­ments from match­boxes. He says, “I think my work is be­tween art and ac­tivism—a kind of silent protest. I make what I see.”

Sa­jeev Visweswaran, an artist from Ker­ala, is also in­flu­enced by pol­i­tics. His pen and ink draw­ings, ex­hib­ited here, are cre­ated themed around the re­cent spate of protests in Kash­mir, where a lot of pro­tes­tors were at­tacked by pel­let guns. We also see his The­atre se­ries—gouache on pa­per— where the artist at­tempts to un­der­stand tran­si­tory re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple he has come across in his life. Ac­cord­ing to his state­ment, “This ve­hi­cle al­lows me to en­gage my per­sonal losses with the traces of strangers that have come and gone and with the un­known el­e­ments of their pub­lic lives and pri­vate emo­tions.”

When you see Ravi Kumar Chunchula’s work, you find a quirky take by the artist on city life. He shifted to Delhi from ru­ral Andhra Pradesh. In his gouache paint­ings, of vary­ing sizes, we see a mix of ru­ral and ur­ban themes. There is a hu­man fig­ure walk­ing around barbed wire, a cac­tus planted ad­ja­cent to a house, a ma­haraja with rats near his feet, and so on.

Look­ing at the ex­hi­bi­tion, es­pe­cially the works of Khatua and Yadav, you ask your­self, wouldn’t it be bet­ter if the ex­hibits were to be dis­played in a pub­lic set­ting? Say, for ex­am­ple, if one puts Khatua’s works near some big cor­po­rate of­fices in Gur­gaon, and take Yadav’s works near Jan­tar Man­tar? And just watch peo­ple’s re­ac­tion. Wouldn’t it be bet­ter? ‘(Re) Vis­it­ing the Ur­ban’ is on view at Delhi’s Bikaner House till 18 Oc­to­ber

Art­works by Ravi Kumar Chunchula.

Su­per­struc­ture on Land-I, by Dig­bi­jayee Khatua.

The­atre Se­ries C, by Sa­jeev Visweswaran.

Mix Match, by Biren­der Yadav.

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