Maiden edition throws up promising talent

The festival, which began on November 17, also brought together a host of young artists from different parts of the country who were allotted individual/group stalls in a separate hall.

The highlight of the four-day event was the ‘Sculpture Park’ which showcased the works of Jitish Kallat, Iranna, Saroj Kumar Singh, Debaranjan Roy, Narendra Yadav and Valay Shende, presented by Chemould, Espace, Maskara, Sakshi and The Guild galleries.

The main section of the Festival also featured a fair sprinkling of the classical (Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, etc ), modern ( M F Husain, Souza, Raza, K G Subramanyam, Vaikuntam, Akbar Padamsee, etc ) as well as the contemporary (Krishnamachari Bose, Manish Pushkale, Rajan Krishnan, and others ).
A particular stall which attracted special attention recreated the studio of the reclusive modernist A A Raiba in suburban Mumbai; the artist who once rubbed shoulders with the Progressives is said to be in his eighties.

Initial reactions

The initial reactions for the event were favourable particularly regarding the main section. Stall holders seemed to be satisfied by the overall organisation, layout and logistics of the event, while the visitors were able to leisurely enjoy the nicely displayed artworks.
However, the absence of frontline galleries like Vadehra, Nature Morte, Galleryske, and Art Alive, was clearly felt. Visitors also wanted a wider range of recent works of leading artists like Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, N S Harsha and others; works of even Mumbai-based painters like T V Santosh, Atul Dodiya and Anju Dodiya were not to be seen.

With paintings and sculptures dominating, those looking for cutting edge and new media art were not offered much. In spite of the shortcomings, artists and gallerists were generally happy that the India Art Festival succeeded in infusing some life into an otherwise sedate art scene. According to Rajendra, editor of Indian Contemporary Art Journal and secretary of the Festival, the idea was to provide a stimulating platform for artists, galleries, collectors and art lovers to interact, exchange ideas and also to transact business.

“This is a democratic event,” he says. “We have tried to provide the best possible facilities and opportunities for different stakeholders of the Indian art. We are sure that the event will grow both in quality and quantity in coming years.” The award for young, individual artist – carrying a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh - was won by Sholapur-based, self-taught figurative artist, Shashikant Dhotre.

Giridhar Khasnis

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