Uniting varied art forms

Uniting varied art forms

With the second edition, each fair tries to get bigger and better. So did the United Art Fair (UAF) 2013 which was recently held at Pragati Maidan. Under the aegis of its founder Annurag Sharma, around 2000 artworks displayed at the venue were put in place by seven curators.

They tried to expand the parameters of contemporary art by including a wider variety of sculptures and photography apart from paintings. It even boasted of including examples from all fields of design - such as graphic art, fashion, textiles, furniture and ceramics. But only a few pieces from these caught the attention of the viewers.  
Known mainly for its artist-driven model, one found not just the artist’s name next to his/her work but also their profiles, which increased interest among the enthusiasts.


While Raja Deen Dayal’s was a repeat, the digitally enlarged portraits from Devangana Kumar’s collection titled ‘Pageants of the Raj’ were exquisite. Capturing the expression of the working class, Devangana - who is also Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s daughter is inspired by colonial images and has a “huge collection of postcards” which she has “enlarged on velvet and embellished with actual jewellery (which gives the work a 3D effect), while ensuring that the picture doesn’t pixilate,” she says. Her subjects are seen holding artifacts that represent their profession and are at times hand-painted!

In extreme contrast yet pleasing to the eyes were the papier mache trees made on metal frame as part of AV Baliga Memorial Trust. A similar earthy feeling is aroused by the Patachitra paintings by Sri Rabindra Behera and Manish Jha’s Madhubani artwork. But the best are the Snakes and Ladders or the Madhubani Ludo done by Chakradhar Lal by using fabric paint on papier mache. 

The artworks by Manil

Rohit catch attention for he chooses unusual shapes (like a pig for instance) as his canvas to paint his equally strange thoughts in vibrant colours. He even shows Hanuman holding a gun! Others like Dwarka Prasad choose stone as a medium to display their artistic talent. Painted in Kavad Art, his work titled ‘Setu ke Ansh’ which represents the Vaanar Sena construction the Setu Bandh, an iconic scene from the
Ramayana.

These are comprehensible but there were many obscure pieces especially in triptych form that confused. But the installations by Katharina Kakar, Gautam Bhatia and Falguni Gokhale were meaningful. While Katharina explores various means to express a woman and Goddess, Gautam’s display of a mantri on cheeseboard gives ideas to rid of the incompetencies in Indian politics. His bronze sculpture Holocaust though looks like a reference to German holocaust but the artist says that, “it is a metaphor for our present lives which are already in holocaust.”

But one could not one’s eyes off from the captivating photographic portraits of Raaj Kumar, Nalini Jaywant, Shammi Kapoor, Nutan, Nargis, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Mukesh taken by the late JH Thakker when these stars dropped by to meet him at the studio he owned. “My father had a photo studio and he started doing publicity (stills) for film producers and banners. The actors and actresses used to visit and hang out in his studio. These portraits came out as a result of the personal interactions that he had with them,” informs his son Vimal who has taken similar shots of Madhuri Dixit in black-and-white. She is the last of the super star heroines to have especially gone to him to get a photo shoot of hers done - like the yesteryear icons!  

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