Art News & Views

Hard Talk


Sometimes an unembellished conversation makes many serious notes and raises many questions regarding the contexts. The coincidence meeting of two Delhi based artists, Vinita Dasgupta and Birendra Pani, and their ordinary talk has made many imperative notes. As they both, now, share the contemporarity, they discussed and questioned each other on their experiences of their short and long journeys of their profession. Mansi Dhiman, happened to be part and the witness of the witty and decisive conversation and thought that it becomes very important for the readers to understand the need and awareness of issues which are there among the practicing artist of Contemporary Indian Art.

Vinita Dasgupta:  I am going to show in Kolkata, Gen Next. You have been even part of Gen Next …. I am a bit excited as there would be other things, too, happening.

Birendra Pani:  Yes, I was part of Gen Next I, it was long back when I was in Baroda, it really helped all the participants of that exhibition.

VD:  It's just about the generation gap …..(With twinkling eyes!!!), how was your journey till now?

BP:  We are in the same field and after the graduation level there is nothing called senior and junior (with a mischievous smile). Earlier we didn't know about the Fine Art as a main stream course. I did my Bachelors in 1997 from Kala Bhawan and stayed there for two - three years, there I learned about cultural, classical, etc. background of Indian history.

VD:  Is it because of this that there is a reference of dance, sets, etc. in your works?

BP:  Yes….. I wanted to amalgamate it in my visual vocabulary. Then I moved to Baroda for my Masters and stayed there and then moved to Mumbai, again moved to Baroda in 2008 and finally shifted to Delhi and still living.

Mansi Dhiman:  Shifting places would have really helped you to see things in different manner comparatively you (Vinita) have been in Delhi only.

BP:  All the places have their own cultures, socio-economic, political state of affairs, which affects the artist and their art work. Kala Bhawan taught me about the cultural things, in Baroda I learned about the concepts, Mumbai and Delhi has taught me many things. I started looking at the same things in a different manner. In globalization, with a post modernist way I looked at localization and found it really interesting.

VD:  It came to me in really in a different manner, with some limitations too. Being in Delhi I am more leaped to the Delhi's art scenario.

MD:  True…… From last few years you both are seeing the shifts in the art world, how you have seen or faced it in your own journey?

BP:  Shifts always comes with good and bad and I have seen both. I have seen commencement and end, how artists have created it….. there is a politics behind the auction houses and galleries….

VD:  Artists have been hyped so many times or sometime is totally contradictory. When I was studying there was boom in the art world!!! hummm and when I passed out thing really changed, it became ambiguous. It was very difficult for young artists to approach to the galleries. But it helped the art world even in a way, only those artists remained who were serious.

BP:  Art became a commodity at that time it was not art for art sake…….artists are facing identity crisis too.

MD:  Things have been constantly changing in India and affecting the art scenario, things are coming in peculiar genre… you see it as an artist?

VD:  Nowadays young artists and practitioners are emerging and producing experimental works, etc and even accepted by the art world too. When I came there were anxieties because of down fall. Artists in this day and age are moving their arenas from studios to public, socio- political, economical relevance. I am more concentrating on self and one can find the social elements too.

MD:  Yes, your works have nuance of language. They have a combination of irony and humor.

BP:  Artist explores him/his self through visual language with different contexts.

MD:  Vinita, you have recently been to Baroda, how was your experience? And Birendra you have studied there and now you visit the same place, what changes do you see?

VD:  I think that Baroda has seriousness in art; students, artists, professors, etc are always into a discussion (panel discussions, classroom discussions, etc.). I wish to do a project there…

BP:  Baroda provides space/studio to the artist to work and always has been a hub. But, generally I think that it needs little more appreciation.

VD:  Artists are coming together from different places and working……

BP: There should be a transformations in the curriculums of the colleges and introduce new media art in it, artists should be aware about it from his/her early period, it should be more experimental, from Baroda to Kala Bhawan to JJ to DCA, I mean everywhere…….

MD:  But comparatively now it's changing, students are using videos, performances, installations, etc. I am a witness of such changes in Baroda. It's (art works) more interactive now. Was it there when you (Vinita) were a student of DCA?

VD:  No not really, my time was like an embryo now it's totally developed. And it's more in Baroda. There is a dialogue between the professors, students and artists.

BP:  At most of the places they have guru-shishya relationship which restricts the students at many levels. It should have a post modernist approach. Kala Bhawan is also changing, but transformations are going a little slow, Bangalore is shifting rapidly.
VD:  When the art world is accepting the technology, by artists and galleries too, traditions are shifting; it should come at college level too.

BP:  Art history, even, should be taught at every fine art college it helps artists to develop in a right way. Now, India should have curatorialship too as a main stream course. Galleries, too, should have art historians and curators body within.

VD:  Art is not commodity only; it demands many things which make some difference and developments.

MD:  If these things would be taken at a serious note then Contemporary Indian Art would be different in coming years…….


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