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5 artists to watch out for in 2013

Last updated on: January 3, 2013 06:38 IST

5 artists to watch out for in 2013

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Kishore Singh

Subjective or not, you'll be hearing a lot about these artists in 2013 and beyond.

A severe churn is happening in the midst of the worst downturn the Indian art community has experienced since the bad times that have eclipsed contemporary art. Some artists, like limpets, have held on, through the promise of longevity and relevance in their work that has survived the continuing downturn, while others have been hurled into a garret-like existence that would have been familiar to their seniors. And yet, that generation has already passed on the baton. Atul Dodiya can no more qualify as an emerging artist, Subodh Gupta now sits on the cusp of seniority, a queue he shares with the likes of Jagannath Panda and Shilpa Gupta. While Sumedh Rajendran, or Thukral & Tagra and their ilk, are no more stakeholders among emerging talents, they have still to occupy the top slot among their peers. Somewhere amidst this, artists such as Chittrovanu Mazumdar and Chintan Upadhyay have disappeared into a maw, their resurgence still awaited.

Despite the miasma, there has been scope and more for artists to exhibit a tenacity that has made the selection of five representative names to watch out for in 2013 difficult as well as argumentative. Not all are unknown, unheard or unsung; some have been awarded and recognised, others have held on through sheer tenacity and self-belief, still others are carving a path that is heraldic and symptomatic of a brave new generation of artists.

Together, they represent the emerging face of art that India will present on a global stage as it struggles to create a new community to represent it in the future.

1. Rohini Devasher

Born 1978, lives and works in New Delhi

When Financial Times takes note of you, you can be sure you're part of the emerging set. Rohini Devasher has managed to find the right toehold with participation in the Frieze Art Fair in London in 2011, showings at the Kiran Nadar Museum in Delhi, and with Nature Morte and Khoj, appearances in Hong Kong, Taipei, Warsaw and other cities as well as international residencies in her bag.

Devasher's primary interest is nature, which she looks at not just as an artist but studies intensely as a scholar, noting its inner rhythms and extracting the immense morphologies that she combines with science and fiction. Not only does she explore nature's complexities, in her multimedia works -- digital prints, drawings, videos -- in which she maps nature "looking back" at the examiner, creating a dialogue that becomes an important intervention in her engagement with it as an artist. Often, the sheer scale of her works can prove overwhelming, and yet, she dwells on its convolutions rather than its terrifying fury or wrath, examining it as a scientist might as she goes about decoding its artistic DNA.


Image: Rohini Devasher
Photographs: Courtesy: Rohini Devasher

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2. Ranjani Shettar

Born 1977, lives and works in Bangalore

Ranjani Shettar has been setting a scorching pace for herself as she races ahead with her works part of museum collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, alongside prestigious solo shows also at museums in Boston, Pittsburgh and Fort Worth, Texas.

She has concentrated her focus on nature, which she wants viewers to experience in numerous ways -- therefore, metal works might be suspended like mobiles to recreate a forest of shadows while simultaneously overhanging over the spectator to draw him into a sensory underbrush. While she uses metal extensively, she also works with PVC, silicon, latex, wood, sawdust and beeswax.

As a trained sculptor, her forms have a lyrical composition, almost as though she is setting up an enchanted garden while simultaneously hinting at its fragile transience. Her current show at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai is her first museum solo show in the country.


Image: Ranjani Shettar


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3. L N Tallur

Born 1971, lives and works in South Korea

Indian artists have tended to gravitate naturally towards Europe, so L N Tallur's tryst with South Korea is itself unusual. Along among his generation, the artist brings an intellectual threshold to his work, his CV reading like a long list of the most happening hot spots of international art.

While some of this has resulted in the use of technology -- such as the use of radioactive waves -- much of his work continues to feature concerns that are localised. His often gigantic installations address issues such as anger (in a satirical but deeply thoughtful work called ATM (Anger Therapy Machine). He references the ossification of the past into a museumisation that he derides, and in turn uses Indian iconography frequently to root works in a current scenario. This allows for a delicious duality.

His most recent outing is at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi where a set of tiled roofs provide a history of the terracotta tile industry, while evoking some mirth through specially kilned tiles that have hatha-yoga figures as part of the installation.


Image: L N Tallur
Photographs: Kochi Biennale Foundation

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4. Mithu Sen

Born 1971, lives and works in New Delhi

Among the most visible of her generation of artists, Mithu Sen delves headlong into the forbidden territory of gender and eroticisation, turning it almost into a fetish. That she collects such objects as phalluses romanticises her as a non-conformist, but Sen is anything if not clear and sharp about female subversion and treats the subject with savage wit.

Known also for the quality of her drawing, Sen, who won the Skoda Award for 2010, works with installations and has addressed issues of sexuality freely in her showings at key venues around the world.


Image: Mithu Sen


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5. Pushpamala N

Born 1956, lives and works in Bangalore and New Delhi

Pushpamala makes it to this list purely because of the ongoing relevance of her works, mise-en-scenes in which she places herself at the centre of a photograph, marking shifts in changing relevance in terms of society, culture and gender.

The theatre of her performance, in which she creates and is simultaneously the content, both creator and performer, is without parallel, a task she has undertaken with a perseverance that will become obvious to forthcoming generations as they study the sociological aspects of her work against the milieu of their times.


Image: Pushpamala N
Photographs: Photo courtesy: Klay Kelton

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