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Art of the matter: A 10-day-long conversation in Delhi

With two ongoing celebrations of contemporary art in Delhi, the community is energised like never before 

Published: 04th April 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd April 2021 01:48 PM   |  A+A-

Treibor Mawlong’s untitled work.

Treibor Mawlong’s untitled work.

After a year that shut out public participation in art, 2021 is making up for lost time. Galleries across the country opened up, and the much sought-after art weeks are back. The Delhi Art Week (DAW) began with curated shows, talks and walkthroughs involving 37 galleries and institutions from April 3.

Co-organisers Tariq Allana, Associate Director, Art Heritage; Sunaina Anand, Director, Art Alive Gallery; and Reena Lath, Director, Akar Prakar, say, “With over 50 exhibitions showcasing more than 250 modern and contemporary artists, DAW aims to engage and energise established and emerging collectors and art enthusiasts, leading to a self-sustaining model for the art community.”

Close on the heels of the DAW, comes the Delhi Contemporary Art Week (DCAW), a curated forum that draws on the creative collaboration between seven galleries. Slated to begin from April 8, it celebrates contemporary South Asian art a genre that is growing in appeal with presence in many global exhibitions and institutions.

The galleries will be showing simultaneously at the Bikaner House and at their own spaces. The events boast talks, workshops, walkthroughs, wine tastings and more. Here’s a curtain-raiser on what the DCAW has on offer this year.

Blueprint 12
Exhibiting their newly launched platform that was envisioned during the lockdown, the gallery aims to provide artists both online and offline presence. Its artists are eclectic. There is Meghana Gavireddygari’s process of art-making based on the past and entrenched in history using day-to-day objects such as cement, wood, turmeric, tea, paper, etc. Sarasija Subramanian’s organic world with its cultural and political implications connect history with the present.  

“The year 2020 was a year to pause and think. And that’s exactly what we did. Our aim is to present young, emerging artists using experimental art forms.”—Mandira Lamba  Co-director

Sumakshi Singh’s Glass vitrine

Exhibit 320
This gallery specialises in offering a platform for new thoughts and ideas, opening up space to constant visual dialogues. As part of its DCAW show, Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha explores global politics, cultural multiplicity, and social and gender roles through cross-disciplinary oeuvres. Globally famous for her immersive, large-scale light installations, her creations are conceptually challenging. Artist and educator Sumakshi Singh brings a whirlwind of experiences from the US, China, France, Italy, Serbia and Switzerland to Delhi. The gallery is also showing the legendary Gopi Gajwani’s mix-media works in watercolour, charcoal and acrylic, interacting freely.

“I believe art truly reveals itself only when we connect with it in person. It’s important to engage with the art and the artist and to celebrate it as a community.” —Rasika Kajaria Director

Shrine Empire
Focused consistently on South Asia, the gallery has created a unique identity with commissioned projects, a large network of local and international partners, and collaborative and outreach programmes. At the DCAW, is on show Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi’s feminist work that questions sexual stereotypes. Recreating everyday objects, she explores a creative range of media. Alongside can be seen the work of Samanta Batra Mehta, an Indian origin American artist and visual artist Divya Singh. Currently working with polaroid, paintings and text, Singh explores themes of isolation and memory—a topic that speaks to the age.

“We look forward to fresh and innovative programming including talks and workshops in smaller groups at Bikaner House and collateral events around the city.” —Shefali Somani Co-founder

Nature Morte
The gallery that appeared on Delhi’s landscape over two decades ago has become synonymous with South Asian contemporary art. This edition of the DCAW is vastly diverse—Mona Rai’s abstracts across different mediums, Kamrooz Aram’s work rooted in the history of art, Reena Saini Kallat’s extraordinary topographic work that traces the borders between countries that are in conflict over the sharing of their common river waters and Raqs Media Collective’s archival video with historical traces. Presenting art that speaks to a global audience is the calling card of this gallery, which was founded in New York in 1982, before travelling to Delhi in 1997.  

“We are thrilled to participate in this edition of DCAW and very happy to be welcoming the public to view art in person again.” —Peter Nagy Founder-Director

Chitra Ganesh’s Lipstick tiger

Gallery Espace
With a selection of small and medium format works by a mix of established and emerging artists, the gallery seeks to engage with a range of concerns—history and imagining the past; environmental degradation; disease and the pathology of pain; social constructs of space; representation of women and the ‘other’; urbanism and its impact; and so on. There are drawings by Manjunath Kamath that appear on motifs of Indian, Chinese and Persian cultures re-imagining the processes of history. Chitra Ganesh’s visual vocabulary interpolates Hindu and Buddhist iconography, surrealism, and popular visual cultural forms to present a culturally layered, feminist narrative. Waswo X Waswo and R Vijay’s lithographic manifestations exhibits visual ambiguity with the trademark ‘fedora man’. The emerging artists are Ishita Chakrabory with her series of postcard-sized works full of feelings of homesickness, and Purvai Rai’s delicate drawings on rice paper that evokes the concept of space ordered by culture and religion. 

“This will be the first important offline art event since the lockdown. It will offer Delhi’s art lovers a holistic experience of art in various mediums, styles, materials and under one roof.” —Renu Modi Founder-Director

Latitude 28
The gallery promotes creative dialogue and diversity and builds an inclusive community and culture. Perhaps one of the most powerful artworks here is Jyoti Bhatt’s Kalpavruksha. He presents a vision of a mythical tree, with hints of the earth and childbirth. A self-confessed ‘nerdy artist’, Baiju Parthan’s digital art has taken centre-stage in the last few years. Using lenticular printing, he seems to be constantly observing and commenting on the virtual world in relation to the real world. Sudipta Das traces tales of the displaced with her delicate handmade Hanji paper dolls using Korean technique. Sublime, yet powerful, it speaks to you and stays with you for a very long time.

“Despite the setbacks we experienced during the pandemic, we have striven forward in continuation of our work. The challenges we have faced, and still face, have become sources of motivation.” —Bhavna Kakar Founder-Director

Vadehra Art Gallery
Showing time is an energetic curation that’s fresh, playful and poignant. There is Pranati Panda’s circular Time Piece series with striking details that emerge almost as a personal philosophy and Vicky Roy’s collection of candid photographs titled Bachpan, which focuses on underprivileged children of urban India. Treibor Mawlong’s wood-cuts contain human narratives of passion, honour, love, pride, and grief. The dystopian landscapes of Shrimanti Saha construct macro-narratives of memory and conversation.  

“As we mark our physical return to cultural institutions, we celebrate our emerging artists and their excellent art practices.” —Roshini Vadehra Director

When & Where
Delhi Art Week; Till April 11; More info on delhiartweek.com
Delhi Contemporary Art Week; April 8-15; Bikaner House, Delhi



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