For each dynamically changing society, there is art that reflects its transformation. What kind of representations are being produced by Indian artists? I’d like to go around some interesting galleries starting from the capital city of Delhi.
Experiencing Indian Contemporary Art
For this cover story, I will try to focus on contemporary art in India.
The galleries in the art capital of Delhi were serving their role as the instigators for Indian contemporary artists to jump into the international stage. I will introduce the galleries and the artworks I saw in them here.
A-1, Neeti Bagh, New Delhi, 110049
+91 11 40687117
Mon-Sat 10:00am – 6:00pm
The gallery “Nature Morte” that was being operated by Peter Nagy in East Village, New York from 1982-1988, was relocated to and revived in New Delhi in 1997. The gallery is an independent house facing the main street of a quiet, posh residential area in South Delhi. It has been housed in its present location since 2003.
As a commercial gallery, it also deals in artworks of experimental genres such as conceptual art, photography, videography, sculptures and installations.
from the gallery’s statement
“The state of Kashmir holds a mythic place in the mind of India. Long known as one of the world’s most beautiful mountain valleys, since the late 1980s it has become synonymous with a political and sectarian conflict which strikes at the very heart of India’s identity.”(*1)
“The central core of “Where the Flowers Still Grow” is comprised of portraits, predominantly young men shot alone within the colossal grandeur of an unspoiled Nature, which seems to know nothing of national borders and political rivalries. […] Where do the questions and answers lie within this image of a gaze locked within another gaze?”
“Having fused portraits of Kashmiri men with their landscapes, Sikka set out to record the more personal details of his visits, capturing not only objects found in homes but also dead animals, abandoned buildings, and elements of nature.”
“These details provide a mise-en-scène for Sikka’s project, articulating a more nuanced interpretation of the region and its inhabitants. What we are ultimately left with is Sikka’s emotional response to his visits to Kashmir, the residual evidence of traumatic events, and the mute witnesses to the convulsions of history.”
Bharat Sikka (Artist’s Website here)
Bharat Sikka (b. 1973) grew up in India, working there as a photographer before studying photography at the Parsons School of Design, NYC.
Establishing a fine art approach to the field of photography, Bharat has contributed for magazines and publications such as New York Times, The New Yorker, i.D, Vogue, and Time Magazine. Bharat now lives and works between Europe and India.
He visualises contemporary India in ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS, URBAN LANDSCAPES and even documents his family as individual subjects in personal projects as part of his portfolio. In the field of fine arts he is said to be the few photographers who are able to express the color and spirituality of the Indian subcontinent.
Topics of the art scene in India
It has been around 20 years since the American gallerist was inspired by Indian contemporary art and relocated Nature Morte to Delhi. This gallery, which participates in major international art fairs, has sent out many contemporary artists into the world.
We were able to interact with the gallery manager, Ms. Sanjana. She said that she studied art in Singapore, and has been working here ever since she came back to India. When I asked her about art events, she was kind enough to willingly tell me many things about the art scene in India – “I think the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 in Kerala that will be curated by Anita Dube is sure to be interesting”, she said.
As is to be expected from a multi-ethnic country that embodies diversity, powerful; unique artworks – as well as being able to frequently come across artworks with political and social connotations – are characteristic of Indian contemporary art.
(* 1) The Kashmir Valley is a disputed region of continued conflict between India and Pakistan. There is a background of religious confrontation between Islam and Hinduism here.
Photographs・Text = Yoko Kobayashi (translated by Aumurto Chaudhury)
This post is also available in Japanese.