Less is more. The phrase aptly sums up India Art Fair that took off in the capital yesterday. The fair, in its ninth edition, has cut out the big and the bizarre to focus on local flavors – particularly from the South Asian region – and socio-political issues that surround us. Smaller and compact, the fair this year looks more efficient as well, in terms of choice of artists and solo projects, even though there are biggies like Delhi Art Gallery and GallerySke flashing a regular array spanning both masters and younger artists. It is, however, the more nuanced works that makes the fair relevant in contemporary times. We pick for you best five works to check out while you are the fair.
1. Zuljanaha by Veer Munshi
Presented by Art District XIII
Veer Munshi has always kept his Kashmiri roots in mind while creating art and his installation of a wooden house turned upside down in the 2015 edition of the fair had made quite an eye-catching political statement. This horse sculpture – embellished and designed with the colourful Kashmiri craft of papier mache – saddled with the burden of skulls and bones is equally poignant as it speaks eloquently about Kashmir’s trauma and uncertainty.
2. Untitled work by Promotesh Das Pulak
Presented by Britto Arts Trust
This Bangladeshi artist’s art practice has been defined by the duality between natural elements and combat equipment, which suggest the betrayal of innocence and beauty. Most of his sculptural installations are large-scale war equipments assembled using small flowers made of ‘Shoal plant’ that are used as traditional craft materials. Here, he shows an installation made up of spongy shoal stems and the flowers that innocuously transform a dangerous weapon into an object of admiration.
3. Laga Chunri Mein Daag/The Stained Robe by Girjesh Kumar Singh
Presented by Rukhsaan Art
Using discarded material such as rubble of brick and mortar from construction sites, Girjesh Kumar Singh has sculpted portraits of people, each with individual stories, expressions and ideas. These are mainly faces, imperfect in their execution – as expected from such a material – and reflective of human nature and biases. The artwork takes inspiration from the 16th century poet-philosopher, Kabir and Singh likens the ‘stains’ in his creation to prejudices that individuals carry.
4. Peace Owners by Sunil Sigdel
Presented by Nepal Art Council
A series of political portraits where the Nepalese artist captures the current global mood with satirical images of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, all superimposed with Buddhist motifs of peace and harmony. The artist explains, “The subject matter in my work involves socio-political crisis of my country as well as the globe and different incidents of my own life. I live in Pokhara, the beautiful silent place near Himalayas, but I am aware of the present situation of my own society as well as the world.”
5. All The Flowers Are For Me by Anila Quayyum Agha
Presented by Aicon Gallery
A red metal box hung from the ceiling, carved on the outside with elaborate geometric cut-outs is lit up from inside, casting never-ending patterns of shadows on the floor and the walls of the exhibition space. The artist explains on her website, “The work was borne of the varied mix of emotion that followed my son’s wedding and my mother’s passing. On a larger level, it was the communal sense of loss – of loved ones, identities, homes and countries – experienced by myriad people across a world ravaged by the atrocities of war and displacement that created equivalence. It added poignancy to my personal loss and the global loss I bear witness to daily via the news media. This work also reflects my joy for my son and his future life alongside of the lives of many people across the world who have been given second chances through resettlement in new lands but who will always carry with them a sense of loss.”
INDIA ART FAIR is on at NSIC Grounds, Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi till
Sunday, February 5, 2017. For visitor details, log in to www.indiaartfair.in
Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist and has covered the arts for over 15 years. She contributes on visual arts for various newspapers, magazines and online media. More about her on Story Wallahs. Write to her @ email@example.com