Curator: Anirudh Chari
In any curatorial venture, it is always hoped that the essence not just of the individual works of art but of the artists’ particular cultural traditions and background will be elucidated. For all the fashionable notions of artists within global culture, in which boundaries are fluid and ideas move effortlessly there is still the urge to look for meaning in art which resonates with a feeling of community as this implies constancy and an definite commitment to a location or a specific set of concerns.
The proposed exhibition featuring the works of a varied and diverse group of established, Kolkata based artists comprising Jayashree Chakravarty, Aditya Basak, Adip Dutta, Chhatrapati Dutta, Paula Sengupta, Jeet Chowdhury, Debnath Basu and Tapati Chowdhury aims to analyze artistic identity within the paradigm of contemporary cultural trends. The variation in style and media and creative processes of the artists as well as their desire for experimentation is an integral element of this venture. The stylistic and technical approach together with the content and impact of the works is likely to be of considerable significance within contemporary artistic discourse.
All the artists in this show have a creative agenda. Through the making of their art and through their creative processes, they wish to make bold statements. The purpose of each varies as do the means. Why then are these various modes being used? The answer is a simple one: to manufacture cultural identity on a macro level and individual identity on the micro level.
The connoisseurship of contemporary Indian art has been trapped in an ethnocentric mode of self-comparison. This exhibition seeks to break that mould, move beyond trite ‘derivations’ without, in anyway, exoticizing the discourse about art from India. It is all about layered identities, people and culture and the move from local to global using new technology and media.
Technology has a major role to play in this exhibition not only in broadening the media options available to the artists but also as a subject within the artwork. Cutting edge technology, in this case, transcends mere Western influences and avoids simplistic derivations. Using a wide range of media including photography, sculpture, video and installation art, the exhibition will examine the role of collective consciousness in contemporary cutting edge art together with questions of belonging, spiritual relatedness, roots and rootlessness. The gallery space will be used to weave a complex narrative of personal stories and experiences. Each work will explore time and space moving back and forth between what appears to be the near present and the distant past resembling the way the human mind chooses to recollect people, places and events.
Bearing in mind the range of artistic practices and the vibrancy of the participating artists, the exhibition is likely to generate considerable interest at not just the national but also the international level given the unprecedented global interest in contemporary Indian art. The catalogue to accompany the exhibition will record not just the finished works but the creative process itself and is, thus, likely to be a significant documentary source.
Contemporary Indian art reflects the nation’s recognition as a major player on the international scene which finds resonance in the Tata group’s rising global presence. The exhibition is, in essence, an attempt to celebrate, through dynamic new media, India’s creative and artistic emancipation and independence. The journey for the artists in this show – all of whom have exhibited widely not just within the country but also overseas – is about the dialogue and interaction between the indigenous and the global, and their points of intersection.
Video and installation art are still nascent concepts in India. The artists using these particular media are looking to examine, extend and expand a new narrative matrix and tell their stories through the multi-screen digital format in a way which has hardly even been done before in this country. Experimentation of this kind needs to find proper support from galleries and industry. This will allow critical creative activity to enter a new age and carve out a niche for interactive experiences.
Jayashree Chakravarty has been developing a unique pictorial language since the 1980s in which layered and overlapping forms are rendered with great skill or a range of experimental surfaces. Aditya Basak is a painter who has been influenced by sources as diverse as Cambodian temples and nineteenth century printmaking in Kolkata. His recent forays into installation and video art carry deep personal and cultural meanings. Jeet Chowdhury, a documentary and advertising film maker and photographer, addresses the mythic and social within the urban environment. Adip Dutta’s sculpture and installation comments on the complexities of identity and sexual politics. Paula Sengupta is a printmaker, installation artist and author whose powerful narrative works are politically charged seeks to document and deconstruct cultural myths and traditional images of women. Tapati Chowdhury takes an existing visual vocabulary and gives it a twist in order to craft richly layered and textured surfaces. Chhatrapti Dutta, painter and installation artist, addresses the interplay of various forms of post-colonial identity in visual culture with more than a hint of humour and wit. For Debnath Basu language and alphabets are narrative devices and sensory symbols.
The desire to capture and preserve a moment is a fundamental artistic, indeed human, pursuit, a notion which is shared by all the participating artists. The aim of this exhibition is to use the atmospheric qualities of the Ganges Art Gallery to provide viewers with a unique artistic and creative experience. The endeavour would include extensive on-site work and will feature pieces being created solely for the exhibition. It is a journey which seeks to bring broad recognition to exciting aspects of contemporary art from India, and Kolkata in particular.