Life | A Gradient Beyond Canvases

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A Gradient Beyond Canvases
Text by Neha Gupta
Published: Volume 22, Issue 1, January, 2014

The third edition of the India Art Festival saw a diversity of talent, a bevy of cultural intellects and a dazzled crowd

December 2013 saw the third edition of the India Art Festival (IAF), of which Verve was the lifestyle media partner. It showcased artists, designers and sculptors from the neoteric to the veteran – all of whom sprayed vibrancy in varied forms at Nehru Centre, Mumbai. Spread across two layers, the final outcome was one that received applause, as it once again outdid its canvas of the previous years.

Being a platform for aspiring artists, this unique brand of the Asian Subcontinent allowed many talents the opportunity to be seen, critiqued and encouraged. There were even some of whom only ambiguous mention in passing had earlier made the rounds of art circles – who, through IAF received that final push to be properly introduced to the world.

Namrata Lodaya’s You Are Important was an interactive installation in a compact kiosk. It was more about getting her visitors to introspect. Then there were Keshav Sharma’s quirky sculptures surrounded with canvases by his contemporaries. A large part of the IAF also saw international artists who were showcased through International Creative Art Centre.

Amidst this colourful kaleidoscope, some designers saw an opening to demonstrate the art that there is in fashion. Shilpa Kamble covered pillows with a digital print and Pearl Art Gallery laid out chunky, stoned necklaces.

A stroll through the ground floor area of the festival opened with a greeting from Tao Art Gallery where Brinda Miller’s lively chair, Kalpana Shah’s red and orange discs, Ratan Krishna Saha’s sheep, Paresh Maity’s canvas of human facades kept one occupied for a while.

A kaleidoscope of about 40 participants and 500 talents sent the onlooker on a blissful journey into the world of graphics. Many made the effort to even initiate a dialogue with artists and kiosk managers. The whole experience for the visitor definitely improved with an opportunity to be able to view works with the creators walking them through the intention behind them.

And of course, there hasn’t been a single IAF without an array of installations. Bhagwan Rampure’s depiction of Hindu and Buddhist Gods stood at the entrance. Inside, as if placed in an arena, which was really the Public Art Space, saw many senior artists’ works. This was curated by Veerangana Kumari Solanki himself.

There was Rekha Rodwittiya’s emerald coloured man built from green lace meera thread, and an interesting looking Dream Text in the form of a purple wooden toy horse. Then Deepjyoti Kalita kept one wondering over The Arbitrary where a man was shown struggling out of a garbage bag in a single channel video.

While these may have tugged at the passer-by’s interest, it was Paresh Maity’s tower of 100 Years Of Indian Cinema that swept you off your feet, for it was a graceful tribute in effortlessness. And opposite this arena was a wall of canvases celebrating Bollywood’s centenary year.

Completing the festival were the IAF Conversations that were programmed by Ranjit Hoskote. They were designed as a two-day conference and hosted by six panels. Artists, sculptors, gallerists, theorists, museum professionals, historians, institution-builders, cultural organisers, editors and publishers – every possible avenue of culture came from the purview of contemporary art. Pheroza Godrej, Reena Kallat, Kiran Rao, Suresh Jayaram, Rahaab Allana, Dilip Ranade are only a few personalities among many who were a part of the conversations. Pressures, necessities and perseverance that question India’s artistic practices were the common thread between these discussions. Who is the audience, mentors and champions, retrieving lost histories, education and its discontents, the poverty of criticism, forms of research were other parleys scheduled for this varietal event.

Having experienced another successful choreography of colours, creativity and innovations, visitors exited, but not before they had circled the dates in their calendars for the next edition of the India Art Festival due in November 2014.

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