March 15, 2018


By Hemavathy Guha

Showcasing the works of Indian and international artists on a single platform, the India Art Fair did bring to us several other interesting aspects and features adding to its appeal. The galleries while exhibiting the creations of its represented artists in their designated space, also helped some artists to project their work and projects on a bigger scale and space through the initiative of ‘Art Projects’.

This section on art projects put up by the art fair is an interesting feature in its own way. They help some artists to better articulate and display their pet projects on a bigger space also inviting a larger span of viewer’s attention.

While this year, there were 18 projects sponsored by various galleries, spread over the entire fair venue, some not akin to a project, but a wall painting, one really had to look around for them in various corners. Although each artist had his/her own reason for choosing a theme and building the project around it, some of them were innovative and thought provoking.

In the art projects section which was just near the media room, many of the artists got to display their projects where all of them got a designated area. Nandan Giya, who has been working with meticulously collected old studio photographs for the past several years and whose work we have seen in the past editions also, returned this time with a more expanded thought process. His installation titled ‘Metamorphia (studio Portraits V.3.0) was supported by Exhibit 320.He had taken his old photographs, manipulating them with the help of the digital tools we have today, increasing the pixels which had made a part of the images blurred. The pixels were then extended outside the frames, sometimes diagonally, sometimes upward or downward. In his own words,  “each image is carefully (de) constructed to reflect where we come from and where we are going while struggling to maintain its relevance borrowing from my own childhood and the world I grew up in’. He had used old antique frames keeping in with the tradition and bringing a dialogue between the analogue and the digital.

Madhvi Subramanian in her work ‘Germination’ supported by Chemould Prescott Road, had taken impression of her pregnant belly and they were displayed like cocoons with vein like structures that ‘cradled and encircled one another’. In her own words, “Germination touches upon the dual nature of existence that of interconnection and individuality, dependence and self reliance.” Her other work took the cue from distance markers be they milestones from yesteryears or the recent plastic ones to direct vehicular movement. The way they were arranged on the wall brought across crossing of light and shadows.

Navjot who in her lengthy career has worked in various mediums exploring materials had used technology on old texts in her project titled ‘Lost Text’ supported by The Guild, Mumbai. The photographs were of ancient stones with texts on them seen on roadside or historical ruins which we cannot decipher and understand. Over these black and white images of stones with texts, she had superimposed her own texts several layers bringing new ideas, through the highlighted words.

Sudipta Das in her installation ‘Soaring to Nowhere’ drew upon the unending voyages of the migrants who were shown  traversing across along with their belongings held on shoulders, hands and on their heads If one had to study history carefully, many of us are migrants except for a handful few who are now termed us ‘adivasis’ or ‘aborigins’. A fourth-generation Bangladeshi in India can hardly be considered a migrant in India having been accepted and totally merged with the ‘others’ who themselves were migrants centuries ago. The people figures, executed skillfully, were suspended down from an overhead structure giving a sense of movement. Her work was presented by Delhi-based gallery Latitude 28,.

Imran qureshis’s paintings gave you a picture of splattered blood although it has been done in a controlled manner reflecting the current events and the troubled state of affairs in his native Pakistan. In the other paintings, the finely painted petals, the gold grounds and the feeling of a garden at night are ‘germs of hope’ as the artist feels, “standing for the persistency of the life force, against all odds”. Imran Qureshi’s projects space supported by Nature Morte , New Delhi, consisted of paintings.

Mumbia-based artist Reen Saini Kalat in her work titled ‘verso –Recto-Recto-verso’ had hung a tie and dyed cloth vertically creating two sides. The preambles of the constitution of India and Pakistan had been printed one on either side on this blue scroll using the tie and dye process, but in a blurred manner which one can interrupt as the collective amnesia of its citizens wherein they have forgotten the principles on which the constitution was born in both the countries. This interesting work was supported by the Saath Saath Arts Foundation.

Shilpa Gupta’s video installation supported by FICA had been created a decade ago and was an interactive one. The work had been previously shown in tents, streets and in gallery spaces. Titled ‘Shadow 3’ it is one of the key manifestations of Shilpa Gupta’s ongoing enquiry into the blurring of relationships between different entities. In the projection, the viewer becomes an active participant of the unfolding narrative where fragments of an aftermath, from an environment under rampage, begin to re enter our lives. This installation kept the audience engaged in a fruitful manner.

The Shergil Archives comprising of photographs taken by Amrita Shergil’s father Umrao singh Shergill brought a breath of fresh air. Taken many years ago and displayed by ‘Photoink’, the archive consisted of photographs of Amrita, her sister Indira, and Umrao singh himself. The way and manner in which he had adjusted the frame, light and positioned his subjects and objects is an art in itself. The photograph of the two sisters in childhood and the two of Umrao singh himself before and after a fasting period throw light on his mastery of the medium.

We hope to see many more such art projects in the art fair in future.