What to Watch for at India Art Fair

India Art Fair

As those of you that have been following our Twitter and Instagram would know, TYS was at India Art Fair 2016 and has been quite intoxicated with all the gorgeous work on display there. If you’re planning to head over there (and you should), we have some suggestions and heads-ups for what you absolutely mustn’t miss there. Plus, if you read up before going, you can impress all your friends with your boundless artsy knowledge!

1. The Rug Life Chose Him

The work of Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed was on display at IAF this year. Ahmed, known for distorting the traditional patterns on Azerbaijani rugs, un-weaves and reconstructs them to make them appear like digital glitches.

His ‘Step Inside‘ exudes warmth and almost invites us in. His interest in patterns can be seen in this work, that seems animated and alive. This blend of the contemporary and traditional represents his own conflicted identity as an Azerbaijani in a modern world.

Faig Ahmed Step Inside 2015

2. Flower-Power

French fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon‘s enthusiasm for flowers and water led him to commence his Watercolour series that found him floating in pools for months, photographing arrangements of flowers. The result, vivid and colourful, can be seen in the image below. The reflections of light and decisive underwater movements lend the photos an ethereal quality, with the colours almost seeming to leap out of the frame. The magic Bensimon creates lends new life to the dead flowers, as he describes it,

When I plunge them into the water, they are briefly reborn. It is as if I am bringing them back to life; the water helps me capture the essence of their living beauty one last time before they wilt and fade.

Gilles Bensimon Watercolour

3. In Lipi’s Shoes

Tayeba Begum Lipi, Bangladeshi visual artist, uses mediums like pins and razor blades for her works. Her ‘Comfy Bikinis‘ has been made with only safety pins and recognises the clash between lifestyles of different cultures around the world: since bikinis are representative of holidays and therefore leisure in some parts of the world but of

cultural shock for the people from my country.

Further, the bikinis are a comment on the consumer-driven society. Lipi‘s ‘Miles after Miles‘ however, made entirely of razor blades, symbolises her myriad journeys walked, over the course of various travels. Each pair of shoes has its own story to tell and, based on her own shoes as they are, have a special significance to her.

 Tayeba Begum Lipi Comfy Bikinis

Miles after Miles Tayeba Begum Lipi

4. Starting Over

Neerja Kothari explores the absurd in her art, attempting to

quantify the unquantifiable.

Drawing her inspiration from her physical rehabilitation process in Kolkata, she recalls how she had to relearn every movement, echoing that process in her art, depicting her learning and re-learning through layers of work with graphite and ink. Her constant, laborious battle is thus immortalised in works such as ‘an investigation of a lyrical movement by the self‘ pictured below.

Neerja Kothari

5. Un-Ela-borate

Anjolie Ela Menon is a renowned Indian painter, influenced largely by van Gogh and M. F. Husain, whose works (mainly portraits) are dominated by thick streaks of colour, prominently slashing across her canvas. She makes no conscious attempts at symbolism; what is interpreted as a symbol is, to her, only the need to accent or to focus on the colour for purely painterly reasons such as perspective or tension. She feels that a symbol often “becomes a cliché; […] an absurdity,” and so remains in an unelaborate reality.

Menon spoke with us about her art at IAF, saying that her inspiration is

a surprise every day,

and that she likes to take it as it comes.

Anjolie Ela Menon

6. Oh, Dang-ol!

Contemporary Nepali artist Asha Dangol deals with themes such as alienation and disillusionment of the youth. He also takes up social problems such as climate change. Despite his interest in strong issues and the bleakness reflected in his artwork, Dangol is a simple man fond of routine and familiarity and is dedicated to his work.

Asha Dangol

7. Reddy, Set, Sculpt

Krishna Reddy‘s abstract sculptures are created with painstaking detail, with every texture intricately examined. Reddy is sensitive to every step in his artistic process so that there is a part of him invested in all his works. His experiences, he feels, has more than anything else, made him,

learn to be humble.

Krishna Reddy

8. All the World’s a Stage

French artist Val‘s jubilant work ‘Jour de Fête‘ captures elation and movement in the bronze sculpture. Bronze is her medium of choice due to its connection with the ancient history of the world, providing to her a connection with the eternal questioning of the meaning of life. Her work investigates the nature of the human condition and addresses existential questions. Her introspective and instinctive work probes at the bigger issues of reality and the ‘theatre of life.’

Val, Jour de Fête

9. Rooted in Indian Soil

The artist that needs no introduction, M. F. Husain‘s works were also on display at IAF 2016. One of the greatest and most renowned painters India has ever seen, Husain has been at the centre of much speculation and controversy for as long as he lived. His name has become synonymous today with Indian contemporary art, and rightly so as he spent his life popularising Indian art, both in the country and internationally. Ever-connected with his culture, despite arguments to the contrary, he insists,

All forms of art are born from one’s roots.

He depicts the icons of Indian culture, capturing the quintessence of his subjects, like Mother Teresa and the characters from epics like the Mahabharata.

M. F. Husain. Lady with the Lamp

M. F. Husain

M. F. Husain

10. Simple Just Doesn’t Cut it

Dhruva Mistry, an Indian sculptor and artist, had striking cut-out figures on display at the IAF. The intricately formed cross-sections, his signature work, combine religion and popular art (of the bazaar). He has also written a book on this trademark style. He strives to make off-beat and quirky art, as different as he can get from the norm and what has already been done.

Dhruva Mistry

11. Amber, in Sepia

Pakistani artist Amber Hammad‘s works are both scintillating and profound. She presents the globalised Pakistani woman in her own socio-cultural milieu, re-contextualised in the contemporary Western world. Her works evoke so much within a single frame that we’d rather not tell you anything but what she says of it,

My works are a commentary on the social culture around me in which ‘Self’ appears to be the most amazing phenomenon of creation and the key to understand everything else. My art practice is part of my efforts to know the Self.

Amber Hammad

12. Faith and Hope

Viveek Sharma ‘paints metaphors’ with his photo-realistic works, drawing from personal impressions, emotions and experiences.

He describes this piece to us, saying people strive to reach god, and then “we just move on,” not looking at faith beyond ritualistic and mundane activities. He believes that we shouldn’t look at religious ceremonies as mere duties, but as feelings that come from within. His inspiration, he says, comes from being

sensitive to what is around me.

Viveek Sharma

Viveek Sharma

13. Skull Skills

As usual, we’ve saved you our favourite for last! Manish Harijan is a Nepali artist who deals with macabre themes in his art. He discloses to us that he used to deal with modern themes, inspired by popular culture, such as a series of Indian gods imagined as superheroes. However, his interest has started to lean towards the grim side now, seen in his repeated motif of skulls.

Even so, hope and nature continue to be ever-present in his works, such as in ‘Aftermath,’ where a plant is seen to sprout anew after the end of the world. Further, his three-dimensional works show a blend of death and sustenance, as the skulls  pictured below have been stuffed with food grains, representing that we become what we consume. He attempts, through his art, to reveal

the ideas of goodness and badness.

Manish Harijan

Manish Harijan

Manish Harijan

Other than these beautiful pieces, also check out the walks and the talks there, to get the complete artistic experience!

Curated art walks are being held thrice a day by Artsome and not only provide a comprehensive guide to the fair but also spark discussions and new perspectives.

As for the talks, speakers such as Stuart Comer from the Museum of Modern Art in New York will be present, making the events a guaranteed stimulant.

But of course, we’ve barely been able to show you the tip of the iceberg with these artists. All the work on display at the India Art Fair is a visual feast, and attending it would be an incomparable experience. We’re still hungover on it! Go and see for yourselves.

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