Art News & Views

Shifting Trends

A journey from the parochial to the porous : shifting trends in Kolkata's art practice

Art in Kolkata has received a boost up of late or at least there is a considerable change, a new wave that has marked its beginning from the latter half of the present decade, breaking our cultural habits. The point is what affects these changes? What does the new art embrace? Who are its followers? Does it inspire the art institutions in the city? How does it differ from the conventional? Is it digestible? How does the city's long chain of critics opine about it? Who are its patrons? These are thoughts perhaps occurring in everybody's mind at present.

What demarcates the present genre from what may be termed as a 'plateau phase' is the dominance of pluralism in a wide range of stylistic trends, materials and concepts and not to mention the  more obvious reasons  - globalization, traveling gaining popularity among the artists and the third being the internet. In totality the present genre has disrupted the cohesive and a repetitive pattern of a prevalent common style. There is an end to the artistic stagnation in the form of almost an atavistic practice and an upsurge of artistic ingenuity.

A section of the early mid-career artists that includes Chhatrapati Dutta, Paula Sengupta, Sanchayan Ghosh, started to make their presence felt since a little before the middle of this decade and more prominently afterwards. Senior artists such as Aditya Basak and Abhijit Gupta, both schooled at the Government College of Art and Craft, Kolkata furthered the list. At about the same time the emergence of first of its kind artists' initiative in the Eastern belt Khoj Kolkata an enterprise by the artists mentioned above, took the focus primarily on the New Media. This naturally included site specific installations, videos and video installations and performance art and community art practices. Young artists such as Tapati Choudhury, Dipyaman Kar, Saikat Surai, Srikanta Paul and to a certain extent Manas Acharya who have been nurturing alternative thoughts of artistic practice soon became part of Khoj Kolkata, too. Although Khoj Kolkata initially started with a seed grant from its New Delhi head- quarters, it now operates autonomously. To a large extent Khoj has received support from Aakriti Art Galley, Aakar Prakar, Emami Chisel Art and Gandhara Art Gallery, all based in the city.  However serious curatorial intervention has begun only of late.

Art in Bengal has come of age through the various styles and ideas that have made the Bengal art scenario more porous than ever which lacked active participation and representation in the national art scene despite artists from the city participating in the transnational level.. At least that's what is evident from the few recent shows the city has showcased: namely Tell Tale : fact, fiction and falsehood curated by Paula Sengupta at Experimenter and another show curated by the same at the Harrington Street Art Gallery, titled Stains On My Chintz and the series of exhibitions titled 'Art Against Terrorism', a collaboration of ten galleries in a succession. And Sanchayan Ghosh's solo installation show at Experimenter, titled The Sisyphus Effect art noteworthy for an observation. Art in the Eastern belt successfully have started to expose a porous nature: conceptually, formally as well in terms of scale, material handling, and addressing both global as well as local issues. Bracketing it under any narrow scope would be foolhardy.

  Oindrilla Maity 





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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.