Distinctive fusion of contemporary art

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The well-curated Week is also being hailed as a much-needed restart to the city’s physical art engagements….writes Siddhi Jain.

Delhi Contemporary Art Week is more special this year, by which brings seven art galleries under one single roof. Turning the spotlight on Indian contemporary art and artists for a whole week in the national capital, the Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW) will open on April 8 with the participation of seven city-based art galleries.

The participating galleries include Blueprint 12, Exhibit 320, Gallery Espace, Latitude 28, Nature Morte, Shrine Empire and Vadehra Art Gallery. Contending that contemporary art in South Asia is more exciting than it has ever been, the seven galleries have come together in this latest edition to showcase a new wave of artists from India and the subcontinent at Bikaner House.

According to the organisers, the Week was initiated as an attempt to generate discourse that befits the shifting lens of the contemporary. This year DCAW is taking place at Bikaner House to add vigour with its grand colonial era architecture and spacious exhibition spaces. There is also an additional exhibition by Reha Sodhi. The galleries will also host exhibitions at their own spaces creating a citywide fervour around contemporary art.

Notably, among the exhibiting artists is Manjunath Kamath who displays a group of drawings that draw on motifs from Indian, Chinese and Persian cultures. Arun Kumar HG’s artistic engagement with the ecology and the disharmonies created by unbridled consumerism find expression in a large sculpture in reclaimed wood that draws on the ‘samudra manthan’ (churning of ocean) myth from the Puranas. Chitra Ganesh presents three small drawings in her customary visual vocabulary interpolating Hindu and Buddhist iconography, surrealism, and popular visual culture forms such as comics, graffiti and street art, to present a culturally layered, feminist narrative.

There are also works that draw inspiration from the pandemic and recent lockdown. Manisha Gera Baswani’s two pin-drawings enact a personal encounter with pain and disease. Puneet Kaushik’s series of works in black and red titled “Sacred marks of a lockdown” trace the fragile and tenuous negotiations of the self with the new realities of the lockdowned world.

Emerging artist Ishita Chakraborty will present post-card sized works that articulate her feelings of homesickness and spatial alienation, living in cold, sparsely populated Switzerland far away from her home in Bengal, and Purvai Rai will present drawings titled ‘People in Prayer’, whose stark geometry evokes the concept of space ordered by culture and religion.

New works by Thukral and Tagra looks at the idea of ‘escape’ more in the light of cyber realities, as seen through the use of emojis and other familiar symbols of play. Reena Saini Kallat traces the borders between countries that are in conflict over the sharing of their common river waters. By rearranging these lines of separation, she carves a new topography with a flowing river forming the landscape.

A group show ‘Cloud Burst’ features a diverse set of expressions around the general human condition and undertakings, articulated either through more intimate mental and bodily experiences. Titled ‘Bachpan’, Vicky Roy’s collection of candid photographs examines the psychology and principles of childhood games as performed specifically by underprivileged children living in major Indian cities, who have limited access to toys and equipment.

The well-curated Week is also being hailed as a much-needed restart to the city’s physical art engagements.

Exhibit 320’s Director Rasika Kajaria holds that Art truly reveals itself only when we connect with it in person. “It’s important to engage with the art and the artist and to celebrate it as a community.”

Latitude 28’s Founder-Director Bhavna Kakar feels that these times call for a new level of creative and collective thinking and this edition of DCAW, “which despite the times we’re going through, will give art connoisseurs an engaging interactive space to experience the best of contemporary art”.

“As we mark our physical return to cultural institutions, we are enthusiastic about celebrating access and spirit through the ingenuity, diversity and sensitivity of our emerging artists and their excellent art practices,” says Roshini Vadehra, Director, Vadehra Art Gallery.

Catch DCAW from April 8-15, 2021 at Bikaner House, New Delhi. Highlights can also be seen online on Instagram at @delhicontemporaryartweek.

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