Anant Artist's top picks at India Art Fair 17

Anant Artist's top picks at India Art Fair 17

BY ANANT ART FEBRUARY 15, 2017

By Ria Sarkar

At the fair's ninth edition, the country,s largest and most successful art show returned on 2nd-5th February, featuring 72 exhibitor booths replete with both new and old works. While in the contemporary sphere, traditional mediums took a backseat to mixed media, installations and digital art, there was an equal focus on revisiting famous works of the Modern era and vernacular art traditions of South Asia. Overarching themes of politics, migration and various socio-economical and religious concerns relating to current times were common across the works of many artists. Anant Art picks the top ten works that caught our eye.

1. All the Flowers are for me (Red) Anila Quayyam Agha

fairs ninth edition

A lone steel cube carved with delicate patterns suspended in the middle of a room; Pakistani-American artist Anila Aghas work stole the show. A simple halogen light suspended inside the box brought to life intricate patterns on the sides that filled the entire booth it was placed in. A visually entrancing work, All the Flowers are for Me- Red has been exhibited in India for the first time and has received critical acclaim worldwide. Paying homage to her deceased mother, Anila has carved intricate floral patterns onto the structure that captures her identity, beauty and femininity. The light reflects and refracts these patterns, revealing hidden layers that are metaphoric of traits and personalities that people often do not show. The light also reflects onto everything around it, beautifying the space that it inhabits. This is the artist,s way of celebrating her mothers memory.

2. Woven Chronicle Reena Saini Kallat

fairs ninth edition

Reena Saini Kallats large installation Woven Chronicle is a captivating work that shows a different kind of map one that traces routes of displacement and migration across underprivileged sections of society such as indentured labourers, asylum seekers, refugees and contract workers. By using electrical wires as yarn, the artist weaves together a seemingly connected planet, simultaneously suggesting the irony behind wires representing barriers of stringent immigration laws, closed borders and the unwelcome reception faced by immigrants without proper papers. The powerful work is accompanied by a single channel audio of pre-recorded sounds that include deep sea ambient noise, factory sirens, migratory bird calls, hum of engaged ringtones among many other sounds clubbed together that brings the artwork alive. In current times when millions of people all over the world have been forcefully displaced from their homes due to natural calamities or political crises, this work is unavoidably relevant.

3. Memoir Bar Thukral & Tagra

fairs ninth edition

Memoir Bar is a travelling exhibition presented by artist duo Thukral & Tagra in collaboration with The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA). According to the artists, the motive was to figure out a means of solidifying emotion and create a library of preserved memories in the form of a fun, interactive installation; where the viewers complete the work of art. The processes involves picking a memory, writing it down on paper and then watch it being shredded and mixed with concrete to form a colourful hexagonal tile. No two tiles are alike, same as no two peoples memories can be alike. Through the Memoir Bar, T & T have envisioned a wonderful way to encapsulate memory on a mass scale while maintaining each persons individuality.

4. Luci di Nara(Lights of Nara) Igor Mitoraj

fairs ninth edition

Igor Mitoraj was a monumental sculptor who was famous for his fragmented, fractured heads and busts of male figures inspired from Graeco-Roman statuary. Taking inspiration from the classical tradition until the very end, Mitorajs works are centred on popular mythological figures which he dramatizes through his rendition which highlights the wear and tear that afflicts everything due to the ravages of time. The idea of beauty is ambiguous, a double-edged sword that can easily hurt you, causing pain and torture said Mitoraj.

At the fair, Galeria Joan Gaspar from Spain exhibited one of his last pieces Luci di Nara(Lights of Nara) made in Bronze which is a smaller version of a life size work installed outside the British Museum in 2002. After his demise in 2014, there have been many posthumous shows including a rare exhibit at Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site by ContiniArtUK.

5. Peace Owners II Sunil Sigdel

fairs ninth edition

Working across multiple mediums and disciplines, Nepalese artist Sunil Sigdel's Peace Owner's II at the Nepalese Art council exhibit was in the spotlight during this year's fair. Catching the attention of laymen and artists alike, Sigdel created portraits of three world leaders in the image of bodhisattvas, in traditional Nepali Paubha painting style. The eccentric combination of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un in god-like attire and boon-giving or blessing mudras is not only satirical but oddly farcical. The addition of flies sitting on their hands or buzzing about the neck adds to the underlying criticism of their personas being contaminated, despite their glorified appearance.

6. Untitled Bhagyashree Suthar

fairs ninth edition

An emerging artist, Bhagyashree Suthar's works are inspired by architectural elements with a brilliant play of light and shadow that is developed through her usage of kite paper washes and beeswax. There is an underlying glow in all her works that gives a different effect as compared to traditional methods of incorporating light in paintings.

On exhibit at Akara Art, her works are imaginary reconstructions of both seen and unseen spaces. Inspired by the works of legendary architect Zaha Hadid, her unconventional use of kite paper that imbues her works with a uniform colour tone; and its combination with pigmented beeswax sets her apart from her contemporaries.

7. Zarina Hashmi

fairs ninth edition

Another artist who works with the theme of exploration is new York-based Zarina Hashmi. Her works at Gallery Espace's exhibit are akin to her lifelong search for home and grappling with displacement and documentation. A collection of 21 small size prints, collages and drawings with intriguing titles such as The Map I do not need II, Returning Home, Song lines II were all displayed together on one wall. Paper-thin skin moulded to look like delicate relief sculptures were teamed with woodblock prints of monochromatic geometric patterns and abstract lines.

8. I Have Met You Somewhere Before Manjunath Kamath

fairs ninth edition

Manjunath Kamath's massive mixed media work made in painted terracotta, cement and iron resembles the archetypal wheel of life; except that humans, flora and fauna have all merged together to a point where they have transformed into hybrid creatures and figures all whirling around in one fluid motion for eternity. These chimera-like figures are common in Manjunath's depictions, as he plays around with the age-old storytelling tradition in a contemporary format.

9.Lonely King 2 Mahbubur Rahman

fairs ninth edition

Bangladeshi artist Mahbubur Rahman's Lonely King-2 was one of two sculptures exhibited side by side, that he made with surgical scissors resembling a thorny crown. Mahbubur creates artworks alternating between installation, video and performance. Heavily inspired by the political and social scenario around him, his art practice involves heavily graphic imagery, scissors being a recurring element in his artworks. Most often they depict conflict, confrontation or in this case projecting a crown that signifies royalty as a threatening object with a negative connotation. In the fair Mahbubur presented the Lonely King as a bust, whereas previously he has affixed the scissor-adornment on human subjects, including himself.

10. Laaga Chunari Mein Daag Girjesh Kumar singh

fairs ninth edition

A striking work at Rukhsaan Art, Laaga Chunari mein daag is part of a series of sculptural works that have been made using the discarded rubble of bricks and mortar from demolished sites. The sculpted faces jutting out of blank canvases are eerie and their dark red colour evokes the pathos in their expressions. Every individual undergoes an inherent identity crises that stems from migration and remains in their subconscious despite attempts at adjustment. Girjesh has depicted that beautifully by using a material that is also a remnant of sorts, as rubble is something that cannot be destroyed, only discarded. The subjects seem to be impoverished folk or construction site workers, each different from the next. Working with such a delicate material, Girjesh Kumar Singh created this work after being inspired by famous poet-philosopher Kabir, which is evident in the titles that have been taken directly from his famous couplets.

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