The newly christened India Art Fair was the most important national art event towards end-January, more so because it was for the first time that a slew of very important foreign galleries had made their presence felt at what actually had been the 4th edition of what was known as the India Art Summit. It was very well organized with 91 exhibitors from 20 countries presenting over 1000 of the modern and contemporary artists across a 12,000 square meter custom built space created for the art fair.
It was a huge show, flooded with art lovers but, as an art enthusiast, one was sorry to observe that the quality of most of the Indian section was rather disappointing, and looked like a cluster of galleries coming together to get rid of their dead stock, excepting a few. The Indian section, one had to admit, was lacking in idea and thought- provoking works. An event of this magnitude gives ample scope for the participants to showcase unconventional works which seldom find space during gallery shows. But it appeared as though the galleries had not thought about this seriously, and as a result the display was an exhibition of works known for their acceptability in the art market. At least five galleries were showing Ravindra Reddy's sculptures and the 'zebras', 'Gandhis', etc which were once in vogue seemed to have been taken over by few representations of the 'butterflies'. Some food for thought really!
Coming back to this and the next two issues of Art etc. news & views focusing on Protest Art. Why Protest Art?
Protest art means questioning the authority and thus it is subversive, anti-institutional and often a form of counter culture. Its mediums are diverse that include demonstrations, marches, signs, posters, banners, performances, installations, music, songs, literature, comics, theatres, paintings, graffiti, photographs, video art etc. With the advent of new media, both printed and virtual, protest has ceased to be localized that targeted a comparatively small circle of audience. Transcending geographical boundaries, social classes, language barriers and the white cube of a gallery space its voice is universal and all-encompassing.
For the current issue, we are indebted to our contributors Mrinal Ghosh, Franck Barthelemy, Sunanda K Sanyal, Seema Bawa, Uma Prakash, Saba Gulraiz, Snehal Tambulwadikar, Navya Ashokkumar, Nanak Ganguly, Nuzhat Kazmi, Tanya Abraham, Sritama Haldar, Sandhya Bordewekar, Vrushali Dhage, Koeli Mukherjee and Anurima Das for the amount of time and research that they have put in to make this a rarely documented issue.
In the forthcoming April and May issue we shall deal with the varied kinds of protest art we have come across whether it is an individual protest or through a movement. The writers will be focusing on varied protestations in the History as well as in recent times.
Do write-in with your feedbacks, as this maiden effort will be further enriched by your inputs.
Richa Agarwal Vikram Bachhawat