National treasure: Set of young artists aiming to represent the idea of India

National treasure: Set of young artists aiming to represent the idea of India

By BHUMIKA POPLI | | 13 August, 2016
 (Left to Right) Coca-Cola re-enters the Indian market by Rohan Jha and Sharmila Tagore in a two-piece bikini by Furqan Jawed.
What is your most powerful memory of India about the past 69 years since the country attained Independence? That was the brief given to 69 artists whose works are part of an I-Day special exhibition that’s being held in Delhi, writes Bhumika Popli.

As India celebrates its 69th year of Independence tomorrow, Animal, a creative agency based out of New Delhi, has put together a unique art show that traces important events post-1947. All 69 years have been represented by the artists in this art exhibition titled Indianama. Curated by Kunel Gaur who is a participant himself in the show, Indianmana features painters, calligraphers, illustrators, graphic designers, street artists and even writers. 

“We wanted to do something related to Independence Day. After a discussion with our team we came to a conclusion that why not let each artist depict one year post-independence in their own style. I reached out to 12 artists for the same and they pulled in more artists who were interested in this concept. We looked at their portfolio and got them on board,” says Kunel.

The profits earned by the sale of the artworks will go to the artists and a non-governmental organisation called Karm Marg, a home for disadvantaged children. Kunel says, “This project was not conceived to make profit out of it. We have decided to share the earnings equally with artists and Karm Marg.”

Guardian 20 spoke to a few artists who have contributed to Indianama.

Rekha Bahl has depicted the turmoil India encountered in the year 1984 through her painting. She says, “I had just completed college from Punjab University but my final exams were postponed due to Operation Blue Star carried out at the Golden Temple in Amritsar by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, leading up to her assassination three months later and Hindu-Sikh riots right after. India was still coping with the two tragedies when a gas leak at a pesticide factory near Bhopal exposed 500,000 people to poisonous gas and killed thousands overnight. It is still considered the world’s worst industrial disaster. With the passage of time, the screams only seem to go louder and I wanted to show this through my artwork.”

Rohan Jha has represented the year 1993 when Coca Cola came in the Indian market. He says, “The year Coca Cola re-entered the Indian market after a 17 years of absence. The Coca-Cola company walked out in 1977 after the elected government demanded them to partner up with an Indian entity. In the early-1990s, when India began to open up its economy to foreign investments, Coke started plotting a strategy to re-enter the fast-growing market and partnered with Parle group.”

“Thanks to colonialism, we are still following the age-old syllabus made for us since that time. There is hardly any novelty. There is a serious dearth of teachers in art schools who can educate students on say for example mixed media art. This needs to be seen and improved upon.”
Kunel who is the curator is also the participant in Indianama. He talks about his own work. “I have portrayed Sanjay Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi was touted as the great dictator of India. A man of two sides, with people divided in opinion whether to love him or hate him. I have portrayed that dilemma against a backdrop of the India that could be, had he survived the plane crash on 23June, 1980.”

This unique show by contemporary artists will go on till 18 July at KONA, Jor Bagh.

There is a lot of scope in India for a contemporary artist to develop his art. After many years of Independence if we see the range of contemporary art practice in India, we will not be disappointed.

Mangalyaan leaves for Mars in 2013 by Arushi Kathuria.Artist Josh PS assesses the situation for Guardian 20. He says, “The present and future of contemporary art in India looks bright. Many artists from this country are experimenting with their range and form and producing fabulous art. One can also see that Indian galleries are also supporting such artists and taking their work internationally. All this is helping an artist to make a mark for oneself.”

Before independence there were few artists who were recognized internationally but post independence we see a lot of important work. He says, “Artists like Gigi Scaria, Shilpa Gupta and the like with their distinct styles have made their mark internationally. 

But Josh is disappointed with the curriculum the art school follows. He says “Thanks to colonialism, we are still following the age-old syllabus made for us since that time. There is hardly any novelty. There is a serious dearth of teachers in art schools who can educate students on say for example mix media art. This needs to be seen and improved upon.”

Being exposed to various opportunities like Indianama there are more artists than before who are coming at forefront practicing their art. The platforms are many and growing. The audience appreciation is also increasing in this field as many institutions apart from galleries are bringing art to public domain. The stage is perfectly set and we will be seeing various individual performances.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.