Nouveau art takes up social reality to make bold statementsSeptember 27th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) Art is charting a meaningful road in India. Investment opportunities aside, art enthusiasts are now using its power of instant identification and recall to drive home social messages. A show, “Popular Reality”, curated by Ranjita Chaney, has woven popular issues as themes around the works of a talented bunch of young contemporary artists like Murali Cheeroth, Tushar Jog, Manil Gupta, Nandan Ghiya, Vibha Galhotra Josh P.C. and Apurba Nandi.
The show will be held Oct 1-17 at the Stainless Gallery in the capital.
“Popular Reality” delves into subjects as diverse as the mysterious crash that killed freedom fighter Shubhas Chandra Bose, the Jaipur serial blasts, abortions, violence, illusions in life and political uncertainties.
The works are mostly reflections of the artists’ personal views on burning issues in environments that gave them their art - hometowns and adopted homes.
“These artists see reality not only as mere popular issues, but more of constructively destructive ideas. The idea of reality and popularity exists whether we see it or not. Moreover, art has always been about contemporary issues. I have always been working on subjects like youth, freedom, popular reality and social issues,” Chaney told IANS.
The trend, said Chaney, started with a show, “Kitsch Kitsch Hota Hai”, curated by Madhu Jain at the India Habitat Centre in 2005. It featured works of 19 artists in a range of media from Bhupen Kakkar to Atul Dodiya where pop, kitsch and reality overlapped.
A recent show, “Urgent Conversations”, curated by Gurgaon-based Ina Puri picked up the threads in September when it portrayed communal violence, displacement, migration and disappearing livelihoods through photographs, installations, video art and traditional canvases.
Jaipur-based contemporary artist Nandan Ghiya’s hybrid art “Kabloom”, which will feature in the show, is a four-part reaction in colours to the Jaipur serial blasts, one of which took place at the spot from where Ghiya sourced his material in the old city.
The paintings - four bold, vibrant and efflorescent discs showing the impact, fire and magnitude of the blasts in bright shades - are Ghiya’s personal expression of coping with the shock.
“I tried bring the two contradicting things together - flowers and the blast. Both of them begin in a similar way - they spread from the core and fan out. The only difference is that blooming flowers depict the way life starts, bomb blasts ends it. Any of it can be a bomb,” Ghiya said.
The artist, who paints contemporary realities, grabbed headlines with his frames of the 2006 Gurgaon riots. Referring to the theme “Impotent India”, which the artist has picked up from a newsmagazine as the subject of his forthcoming series about Islamic terrorism, he said: “This country is nothing but just a geographical mass. Who are they referring to when they call Indians impotent…us perhaps, the artists.”
Ghiya’s train of thought is reflected in another series on display called “Mission Abort”, which talks about a pregnant Mother India and her million unborn foetuses who do not want to be born for fear of being brainwashed in infancy.
Some of his frames carry sub-texts - small messages like slogans in advertising campaigns questioning value systems and the ambience of violence.
Josh P.C., a young artist from Kerala, is obsessed with documenting history in shades of sepia, black and white.
“My frames are mostly sepia-tinged history. I like putting facts in a different contexts so that it generates debates,” says Josh, whose canvas, “How Does One Go Missing in a Crash”, is his personal interpretation of the crash that killed Bose.
Josh is preparing for a show in Kolkata for the Delhi-based Nature Morte Gallery, where some of his best hand-painted historical documents, like Gandhi’s salt march, a snapshot of Jawaharlal Nehru’s meeting with statesman C. Rajagopalachary, a front of the 1946 edition of the Hindustan Times headlined with the news Kolkata Riots, the Lucknow La Matiniere’s building and a graphic representation of the Kolar gold mines will be on display.
Young artist Manil Gupta, whose works depict the grand illusion that is life in striped semi-abstract figures, believes that people are so consumed with daily life, they hardly realise what is real is unreal.
“You don’t realise that happiness does not lie in material abundance, but in sensitivity and romanticism,” he said.
Gupta likes to describe his works as “probes into the existential dilemmas of ail mankind which is also another form of contemporary reality”.