We often whine about how Delhi isn’t a livable anymore, counting the many reasons like traffic, noise, ever-growing population and poor air quality that time and again becomes consta for the newspapers. However, the ongoing group exhibition titled I Love Delhi at the India Habitat Center attempts to draw us away from the challenging and, at times, frustrating city, and focus on the beauty that goes beyond these woes.
This exhibition is the brainchild of the Art for Change Foundation, a Delhi-based not-for-profit organisation that works with young upcoming artists. This show, post their seven residencies, are 15 artists from different parts of India who have settled in Delhi for the past two to 20 years. Here you can find canvases by Manoj Mohanty highlighting Delhi as a place of inclusion, while Ashok Juttu reminisces the first sight of the New Delhi Railway station he encountered once he stepped out of the train bringing him to the City of Djinns. One such artist who is part of the show is Isaac Tsetan Gergan, who is always on the move between Delhi and Ladakh.
“We had seven, 10-day residencies on the theme I love Delhi, which challenged us to think about Delhi beyond its bureaucracy, extreme temperature, aggression and more, to come together to celebrate the city. While Delhi can be tolerated, many choose not to live here, so we are trying to find a way to love the city, representing it through visual art.” Gergan believes that artists can appreciate things beyond the physical realm and are in a good position to shape the society with beauty and truth, a vision that the foundation works towards.
The 32-year-old artist has two of his artwork on display, which are in some ways, an extension of his work in Leh which focuses on the old town of Leh and its neighbourhood. “Here, instead of looking at the old town of Leh, I’m looking at Old Delhi’s window and architecture, its people and their stories in my painting Stories Behind Windows. The other painting Neighbourhood, is about how buildings come together to become a neighbourhood. So, I look at the neighbourhood in an abstract way, what its structure is, the chiawalas, the temples and what does it really mean to be a neighbourhood in Delhi,” shares the artist, who has used brighter colours like orange, red and neons along with bolder lines and bigger windows. “The pollution, the overwhelming crowd is all temporary but the truth, the beauty and harmony are the things we yearn for, something that an artist can reach and therefore use it as a resource to represent the physical.”
The artist grew up in Ladakh but has grown up in different parts of the world and today that diversity is what propels his work and life. So, along with painting, the artist is also a photographer and his passion for image making, the sense of photography has evolved and diversified as he paints.
“The photograph and the act of making it have advanced to become, in a way, an extension of my philosophy, allowing me to bridge my many interests. However, photography and painting are two different sensibilities and each informs the other. So, even while I’m painting, I’ll be photographing the canvas, giving me an altogether different perspective of the painting. Sometimes I’m inspired by the photographs that I’ve taken and they become my resource to paint,” says Gergan, who believes that if he didn’t paint, he wouldn’t be looking out for varied elements of textures, colours and combinations in a photograph.
Till: February 11
At: Open Palm Court, IHC