As I come back from Gothenburg, after being a witness to the enthusiasm with which the gala exhibition of Indian Contemporary Art (organized in association with Emami Chisel Art and Aakriti Art Gallery) was received by the enthusiasts at Sweden, my conviction that geographical boundaries matter no more among young artists has become even stronger.
There was a time when connoisseurs and critics talked in terms of different schools of art like the Bengal School, or the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group. It wasn't that late also since such terms were freely used during the seventies of the last century.
But the new millennium or perhaps a decade before it saw a perceptible, if silent change in the way one could describe the works of the new generation artists in this country. And in recent times the content of the new generation artists has definitely changed. This generation believes that art cannot be confined within geographical boundaries. Thus they have created their own language which is universal. It is difficult therefore to identify the origin of the artist by looking at the work and mediums used.
The reasons are not far to seek. Firstly, the window to the world is no longer limited to reflected views. Not only does one get to see the happenings all over the world almost in real-time. Thanks to numerous television channels and the internet, social networking also gives one the opportunity for free and unlimited exchange of ideas. It is therefore imperative that the way a young artist in India looks at, say the theme of terrorism or global warming, will not be any different from the way his contemporaries in Africa, Europe or America will be viewing it.
True, connoisseurs still flock to an exhibition which is branded as 'Indian', because of the associations one has of the exoticism of the Orient. True that auction houses in UK and America still pitch contemporary art from this country as 'Indian' and the time is yet to come when a Husain will sell side-by-side with a Warhol at Sotheby's or Christies under the banner of Contemporary Masters. But the essence of appreciation is definitely changing both in terms of themes as well as in terms of technique. New media like Video Art is being exploited with the same gusto by the young turks of India, as it is by the younger generation of artists abroad. The result is how a largely global audience has already started appreciating works by modern Indian artists for what they ARE rather than for where they ORIGINATE.
That is exactly what I realized through my interactions with the visitors at the Swedish city. And it brings forth a certain hope within me to realize that geographical tagging for oriental art is finally taking a backseat on the global benches.