Urban themes galore at the India Art Fair

Of course, as an architect, my eye gets drawn to works of art that express themes that are urban in nature. But this time at the India Art Fair in New Delhi, there was no escaping the fact that artists are thinking of urban issues and concern, romancing the city, and expressing the nuances of urban life like never before. Not only does this mean that our urban identity as humans is now perhaps mainstreamed, at least for art appreciated by city folk, it also means an increased focus on urban issues that need urgent attention. Art contributed to enhancing awareness about these issues among a wider audience and we need all the help we can get to fix our cities if human life has to be sustainable for the future.

Here are a few glimpses of the fair.

The facade augured well for happy viewing. I loved the colours...

The facade augured well for happy viewing. I loved the colours…

The skyline and the streetscape were the most common representations of urbanism and featured in the work of many artists, even those who were prolific in the ’60s. However, new forms of expression that used mixed media, digital art, recycling of waste etc was interesting to see. Some of these works moved into the realm of activism and highlighted issues related to migration, urban identity, ecological concerns, etc. I was tickled to see that many of the artists exhibiting here were trained as architects.

Sachin George Sebastian is an architect and his work clearly reflects the skills and sensibilities of one

Sachin George Sebastian is an architect and his work clearly reflects the skills and sensibilities of one

A close up explains more clearly what I mean....

A close up explains more clearly what I mean….

Hema Upadhyay’s work ‘Mute Migration’ particularly impressed me. Firstly, migration is my area of research and I am passionate about the need to accomodate migrants into our cities. Her mural highlights that informal settlements are where migrants get absorbed, where the type of mixed-use lifestyle flourishes. Certainly, we need to learn from the amazing tenacity of these self-evolved informal settlements rather than constantly shun them in a bid to redevelop and relocate!

'Mute Migration' by Hema Upadhyay makes a mean point and is spectacularly large!

‘Mute Migration’ by Hema Upadhyay makes a mean point and is spectacularly large!

A close-up to show the kind of materials used. This was first exhibited in Japan

A close-up to show the kind of materials used. This was first exhibited in Japan

Suhasini Kejriwal's enormous pen and ink drawing depicts the teeming vibrancy of urban life. I loved this one!

Suhasini Kejriwal’s enormous pen and ink drawing depicts the teeming vibrancy of urban life. I loved this one!

Sheba Chhachhi's Moving image Lightboxes highlighted the plight of the River Yamuna and made a mute appeal for help

Sheba Chhachhi’s Moving image Lightboxes highlighted the plight of the River Yamuna and made a mute appeal for help

And on a humorous note, another architect Gautam Bhatia brought tears of laughter to my eyes through his sculptural commentary on the Indian politician. The text on his sculptures uses his classic tongue-in-cheek over-the-top style to push the point through. The Minister for Public Health has to leave for New York for a stool test after gas build up post a meal at Parliament Annexe. The Minister for Women’s Rights sells his wife to the private sect…you get the drift!

Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha by Gautam Bhatia...a humorous but cynical view of Indian politics to be sure!

Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha by Gautam Bhatia…a humorous but cynical view of Indian politics to be sure!

It’s always a fun experience to see this Fair. I have watched it grow and it’s great to see so much interest in India both as a nation that produces great art but also for its buying power. I watched many deals negotiated, haggling and also the satisfied smirk on some faces after buying a Chagall or a Raza in the original! As for me, I had no urge to buy. I was here for the visual treat…..perhaps some day……

The exhibits outside were interesting too...

The exhibits outside were interesting too…I clicked this for the colour effect!

Paresh Maity's 'Delhi 7' did not inspire

Paresh Maity’s ‘Delhi 7’ did not inspire

'Triple Gandhi' by Pakpoom Silaphan- Quite an interesting concept

‘Triple Gandhi’ by Pakpoom Silaphan- Quite an interesting concept

An absolutely lovable idea with old books!

An absolutely lovable idea with old books!

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on February 4, 2013, in Arts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I am not a great fan of Delhi, but it is fairs and exhibitions like these which make me wish I were in Delhi and not Mumbai.

    Loved your post πŸ™‚

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