Art News & Views


Contemporary as a Paradoxical Attitude

Contemporary Indian Art is something that believes in happening right now, though it is well aware of the paradox that the 'now' has always got to answer 'then' and 'henceforth'. On the other hand, not everything that is represented now can be considered contemporary. If a traditional/miniature painting is always outside the mainstream and comfortably inside the tradition of today's craft, it is the same (a) art community and (b) art agencies of art that insist an argument for considering them as part of a certain 'living tradition', as if to facilitate the inherent paradoxes. This and such other notion of paradoxes, taken seriously, is essential in general and compulsory in particular for 'contemporariness' in art within India, let alone the question of yet addressing it as 'Indian art'. In other words, the artistic practice seem to be way ahead of the theory construed around it, yet, though it is not the contemporary but the Modernist attitude to segregate practice from theory! The unending reference to the Modern seems to be the ironic desire of the contemporary. Hence we are not aware of the fact that we are empirically depending a lot on the apparatus availed to us from the past, a la Modernity! How are we to operate in a situation which evokes us to challenge and appropriate the very evoking agency itself?

Contemporary art in India is, first of all, a desire to place a certain qualitative artistic practiced above the rest and, reciprocally, to marginalize the rest, in the absence of a 'its own voice' from the latter. Empirically this might be true, but the theoretic practice wishes to do away with such a notion, only after ably contesting it! Perhaps the increasing grip of the agencies of contemporary upon its own discourse appropriates everything else as utopian. Is the alternative to the alternative practice, politically converted into the conventional?

This issue contains articles about contemporariness in Indian art in its various avatars. It is an attempt to evoke certain dialogues and 'differences' rather than cater to the already existing methodological approach to it. The difference between the two questions 'what is contemporary art' and 'what is contemporary in art' is that specific grey area wherein lies a solution, thought not an answer, to this.

HA Anil Kumar  


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