In holding an exhibition of 10 contemporary Indian painters, the Gallery ArtsIndia in New York is reiterating one of its key commitments to the Indian art world: to introduce newer talents to American connoisseurs.
The current exhibition Kaam, which was curated by Bose Krishnamachari, one of the best-known young painters, will also be shown at ArtsIndia's San Francisco gallery early next year.
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"The exhibition is inspired by the wave that Indian artists are creating in the global art world. Participating artists have broken through the boundaries of traditional schools and have created their own vocabularies," says Priyanka Mathew, director, ArtsIndia.
"It is especially significant that the exhibition is launched here in New York since these artists are the first of a generation of artists that have had a truly global influence in their work," she adds. "They have come of age in an era where the global pop culture had started its first waves in India. Within this atmosphere, their effort has been to find a unique artistic expression."
Apart from the work of the three visiting artists, the gallery also is showing the paintings of Anandjit Ray, Anant Joshi, Baiju Parthan, Chintan Upadhyay, Justin Ponmany, Sudarshan Shetty, and T V Santosh.
The paintings deal with subjects as urban chaos, loneliness and death painted in contemporary strokes. At least one painter is inspired by dark, underground cartoons; another, by the images seen on the Internet porn sites.
A brochure produced by ArtsIndia offers excellent insights into the philosophical, political, and aesthetic positions of the artists.
"The interviews were conducted by the artists themselves," Krishnamachari says. "For, I truly believe that only an artist is able to understand fully what the fellow artist is doing."
Krishnamachari, 41, who believes that Indian curators are not doing enough to hold exhibitions of works by newer artists, especially outside of New Delhi and Mumbai, began putting together his own exhibitions about three years ago. He called one of the exhibitions Bombay Boys.
But for the New York exhibition, which includes artists trained in Baroda, he chose another name.
"Kaam, of course, means work," Krishnamachari says. "We are truly working artists. Though some of the artists in this exhibition, say Jyothi Basu, have tried doing something else when they faced a lull in their creativity, by and large, we like to think of ourselves as workers on a daily basis."
The word kaam also means lust, he adds. "It is the lust for our profession that has kept us going on for several decades," he explains. "If we did not have this great passion for our work, we would not have persisted despite all the setbacks and discouragements inherent in the system.
"Many of us left the states where we grew in and went to Bombay or Baroda because these two cities offered great scope to study further and interact with the artists from all over the country."
Most artists in the exhibition have begun showing their work abroad in the past decade in exhibitions in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. But most of their work is new to America.
Mathew feels the show has attracted a good number of younger viewers.
"What really excites me is to see people react so encouragingly to the artwork," she says, "especially because these artists are really pushing aesthetic boundaries and questioning the world through their art.