Indian Artists on World Podiums, Country Draws Foreign Talents

Annie Samson/New Delhi
Indian Artists on World Podiums, Country Draws Foreign Talents

It was an eventful year for Indian art with domestic artists gaining international visibility through a series of exclusive shows abroad, even as the country attracted the global art fraternity.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK organised a first public viewing of the final artworks of celebrated artist M F Husain in May this year. The artist who died in London in 2011 aged 95 had completed a residency at the Museum in 1990.

Eight monumental triptych paintings by Husain titled the "Indian Civilization Series," also known as "Vision of India through Mohenjo-Daro to Mahatma Gandhi", was commissioned by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal's family in 2008 and were never previously seen publicly.

In October, the Guggenheim Museum in New York opened "V S Gaitonde: Painting as Process, Painting as Life," a retrospective of the artist's work. Gaitonde who died in 2001 was not very well known in the US, even though he had travelled to New York in 1964.

Britain's Tate Modern Art Gallery hosted its maiden India exhibition in a new collaboration with Delhi-based collective Khoj. Titled "Word, Sound and Power", the group artshow had debuted at Tate's Project Space Gallery in London in 2013.

The show featured works by eight contemporary artists across disciplines of film, performance, audio, documentary, text and sound to interrogate ties with language and power. Caroline Bergvall, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Amar Kanwar, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, Anjali Monteiro and K P Jayasankar, Mithu Sen and Pallavi Paul participated.

"This collaboration points towards an interest shared by both the Tate and the Khoj in socio-political issues of migration, political expression and its articulation through voice and silence," Pooja Sood, Director, Khoj said.

After a gap of two years, India's sole biennale opened its second edition. The 'Kochi Muziris Biennale' showcased works of 94 artists from the world over, including that of Yoko Ono, wife of late Beatles star John Lennon.

Curated by Jitish Kallat on a "Whorled Explorations", theme, the 108-day long art extragavanza took to crowd funding to raise about Rs 15 crore and recieved a shot in the arm when UAE-based Indian businessman T V Narayanan Kutty came forward to provide Rs one crore per year.

The year began with the India Art Fair, one of largest Art Fairs in the country, which in its sixth edition showcased 91 galleries with over 1000 artists.

In the month of February, Delhi played host to INSERT 2014, which brought together a diverse group of international experts and contemporary artists to "inaugurate a re-thinking of the city's cultural infrastructure."

Organised by the Raqs' media collective at IGNCA's Maati Ghar, the event backed by the Mumbai-based Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation and the HUB Foundation for Contemporary Art in London. Participating artists included Hannah Hurtzig, Clark House Initiative and Gauri Gill, Kendell Geers, Rirkrit Tiravanjia, and Yao Jui-Chung among others.

Raqs media also put up at the NGMA "Asamayavali/Untimely Calendar, a show on the question of how to be with the untimely, and how to survive encounters with time, unscathed.

A very big contemporary exhibition opened up in May at the National Museum here this year. Spread across eight galleries, the show curated by art historian Naman P Ahuja, sourced about 300 objects including sculptures, paintings, masks, jewellery, posters, video installations, music clips and textiles from 42 lenders. "The Body in Indian Art" exhibition was first shown at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels.

The NGMA in Delhi opened a retrospective of Subodh Gupta's works in February curated by Germano Celant. The show titled "Everything is Inside" was the artist's most comprehensive exhibition in the country till date.

The museum had also mounted an extensive exhibition "Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest on closing of the birth centenary celebration of Sher-Gil.".

In April, the museum's Mumbai branch presented a solo show "Experiments With Truth: Atul Dodiya", displaying 130 works of the Mumbai-based artist.

Legendary architect Raj Rewal's work of 50 years was shown in a major show "Raj Rewal: Memory, Metaphor and Meaning in his Constructed Landscape," curated by A G Krisha Menon.

Australia handed over to India two antique statues -- one a Chola dynasty Nataraja and the other a 10th century Ardhanariswara, which were allegedly stolen from temples in Tamil Nadu before being bought by art galleries in Australia.

Kolkata-based Akar Prakar art advisory was launched in Delhi in September with a comprehensive exhibition of artworks by noted contemporary artist Ganesh Pyne.

So also the Delhi Art Gallery expanded to Mumbai with an "Art of Bengal" exhibition.

At the Art Dubai there was a display of artworks by six contemporary art galleries from India. Among the exhibits included Amar Kanwar's "The Sovereign Forest and Other Stories." Indian artists were also represented at Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters this October in London.

Artist and sculptor Bharti Kher was showcased in Shanghai "Bharti Kher: Misdemeanours". "Mithu Sen: Border Unseen" was the first solo US museum exhibition featuring the work of Mithu Sen.

The Art Institute of Chicago showcased eminent artist Nilima Sheikh's solo "Each Night Put Kashmir in Your Dreams."

Delhi-based Vadehra Art Gallery presented Picasso & Dali: Etchings-Photographs- Drawings, an exhibition of works by the masters of European Modernism.

Select works by Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter and David Hockney, all top global artists were exhibited by Sotheby's in Delhi along with Indian masters M F Husain, Gaitonde and Bhupen Khakar. The works were part of an auction.

Yamini Mehta, senior director, Sotheby's said the show was done because they believed "there was a real hunger amongst Indian collectors to experience well-known international contemporary artists."

For its 25th anniversary celebrations, Gallery Espace featured works by most influential Indian modern and contemporary artists surveying the breadth of drawing dating back to 1947.

At New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art about 60 jeweled items, including a gem-set tiger head finial originally from Tipu Sultan's throne and a jade dagger owned by Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan were displayed.

Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumabi opened with an art museum, followed by a photo exhibit spread across multiple venues in Delhi and eight other cities.

On the eve of S H Raza's 92nd birthday, Vadehra Art Gallery presented "Parikrama: Around Gandhi", an exhibition of the modernist master's new works executed after his return to India in 2010.

Massive works by leading modern and contemporary Indian artists were presented at the Lalit Kala in Delhi and Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai by Saffronart in "Ode to the Monumental: Celebration. Visuality. Ideology exhibition.

To raise funds for installing a statue of the Mahatma in Parliament, Art Alive gallery hosted a selling exhibiton with works of 28 artists in Delhi.

Some very senior artists also put up shows this year.

Nalini Malani, the Mumbai and Amsterdam-based artist opened two exhibitions including her first retrospective "You Can't Keep Acid in a Paper Bag" at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. KNMA also hosted the exhibition "Rameshwar Broota: A Retrospective" curated by Roobina Karode.

Baroda Univeristy in collaboration with JJ School of Art brought a retrospective by artist Krishna Reddy to Baroda.

Sudarshan Shetty returned to Delhi with a solo show at GallerySke. Vadehra Art Gallery and Lalit Kala Akademi presented an exhibition of artist A Ramachandran in two parts -- "A Retrospective: Drawings, sketches and studies from 1958 to 2014" and "Ekalinji Fantasy: Paintings and sculptures from 2009 to 2014."

Anita Dube's solo "Yours Disparately, Anita Dube" opened at Nature Morte. The DAG put up a Rabin Mondal retrospective.

Atul Dodiya's "7000 Museums: A project for the Republic of India", a solo, opened at Mumbai's BhauDaji Lad City Museum.

Sakshi Gallery presented an exhibition of monochrome drawings and canvases by octogenarian master Krishen Khanna.

This year saw the entry of Forbes India Art Awards across 14 categories from the world of Indian art.

Next Story : 2014 Saw Controversies Over 'Love-Jihad', 'Ghar Wapsi'
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