Art News & Views

Delhi Dias


New kids on the block

The art scene in Delhi is getting a face lift. It seems that emerging artists are the flavor of the season. With the end of the two year long lean period in the art market, one was wondering what immediate and long lasting effects it would have on the production and circulation of art.  Though it happened even as the season was technically off, Religare's summer residency “Cannaught Place: The why not place”, gave a peek into the emerging preferences of the art world. It saw a melange of artists from India and abroad, coming together to produce works under the mentorship of Sumakshi Singh who took up the task with a new perspective and depth, hardly ever credited to someone so young. The participants varied in the mediums they chose to work with, in their perspectives but what linked them together was where they stand in their career graphs and the manner in which the platform benefited their journey as artists.

As the season opened and this observation put to task, one could clearly see that the galleries' and the buyers interest in the 'emerging artist' was here to last. This could be seen as new galleries with a refreshingly contemporary approach cropped up in Delhi, which focused on showcasing the best of so far relatively undiscovered artists. Exhibit 320, Latitude 28 and Gallery Art Positive, Seven Arts Ltd., all held curated shows with groups of emerging artists, giving  them a free reign to explore their ideas and briefs that didn't bind their creativity.

Art Makers : Circa 2010' is a two part show, held at Exhibit 320, curated and conceptualised by young curator Ranjita Chaney. The exhibitions saw 11 artists, collaborating in a group of 6 and 5, working within the comfort zone of their chosen media, the common link between them being the fact that they are “new-age” practitioners who look at things with a new perspective. Just looking at the artworks, one can feel the freedom with which the artists explored their respective subjects and the uninhabited manner they used the medium in to express themselves.

Branded as emerging, these artists, hold a lot of promise and do no hesitate in using unconventional mediums and make a statement through their work. Their enhanced sense of design is visible in the aesthetics of the show. Muktinath Mandsl's innovative use of framing as a technique that adds to the character of the work opens a dialogue on the importance of presentation in making an artwork. Also interesting is the artistic style of George Sebastian who uses his talent at making pop ups to create beautiful delicate art works which is a technique so far unexplored by Indian artists. Artists such as Akshay Raj Rathore and Viyom Mehta manage to convey the technological shifts in terms of both mediums and ideologies, their work having a very chic appearance, yet managing to convey the personal subjectivity and understanding of the artists.

Gallery Seven arts has constantly been engaging in the practice of exposing viewers to fresh talent and has managed to make a niche for itself as a platform the underexposed thinking artists. deeksha Nath has conceptualised “First Showings”, a series of art exhibitions in the space, working with brand new artists, giving them their first solo show at the gallery, pitching them to investors and audience. Not only do the works carry an aesthetic freshness but also come at a price that appeal to good collectors and not just people seeking returns from art.

As art moves away from just primarily being canvas centric, to being interactive, it has given entry to a new kind of audience. Somehow it bypasses the need for text and meaning because now the artworks speaks directly to the senses. This installative tendency in art practice is also slowly finding new collectors, thus making them viable and hence a business-friendly practice. This new generation of emerging artists have solved a significant problem for the art market. As the recession sunk in, the major question was how to bring down prices of contemporary artists and yet not let it effect their branding. Somewhere in the middle of 2009, sporadically but together, people started seeding projects, working with a new lot of contemporaries. This category gives the opportunity to build a star status and still keep the prices recession-friendly. At least for some years an Akshay Rathore will be cheaper than a Bose Krishnamachari even if he is more in demand.

As during all trends settling in, one should stop and question the trend itself. The tag of emerging artists is not enough to make a contemporary sail through. As could be seen in some cases, the artist in his attempt to connect to the 'emerging buyer', somewhere faultered in his attempts at good art. In simran lamba's show at visual arts gallery, what was apparent was a set of good artworks, falling short by the gaudy framing, without which they would have worked much better. As presentation took over art making, the show ended up looking like a display in a designer's shop. One the other hand, the same evening saw another contemporary art show at palette art, which kept from making the same mistake. Pradeep mishra's delightful canvases had a rawness that the work demanded. Pradeep is showing in delhi after a long time. Branded as an 'emerging' artists five years ago, Praddep refused to join the rat race.

The season has just begun and the viewers are in for a whole host of exposure to this genre of art. October and November see two 'established' emerging artist's platforms show their latest picks. As “Gen Next V” (Aakriti art gallery, Kolkata) puts together its list of promising artists, “Drifting Still”, the second in the “Driftor's” series of shows opens in delhi; 'Driftors' thereafter positions itself as an open curatorial platform to curators willing to experiment with emerging artists.

As afternoon turns to evening, I get ready for the opening of a show of a group of emerging artists. Something tells me its not one of the last ones i'll be attending.

  Ravisha Mall 



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