Review: Art of the new Nation: Vadehra in the IAF/ India Art Fair 2016/ JohnyML
Grosvenor gallery and Vadehra Gallery occupying space strategically at the opposite corners at India Art Fair 2016, seem to have made contrasting choices in their artists works as well..or have they? Johny ML reports for Art Tehelka..
Grosvenor Gallery, London and Vadehra Gallery, New Delhi used to be business partners and in the IAF 2016 too they are strategically positioned on either side of the aisle of the Hall number 2. It is interesting to see Grosvenor Gallery that made a few Indian contemporary artists famous on the foreign shores by helping them to present large scale unconventional works during market boom years now has chosen to exhibit the extremely conventional and ‘beautiful’ works by the Sri Lankan artist, Senaka Senanayake and the modern miniature artist Olivia Fraser and in the meanwhile Vadehra has gone aggressively on presenting the Indian contemporary art with some ‘political edge’.
One will not miss the kind of ‘dark’ theme that is prevailing in the well lit up Vadehra Gallery booth. Gulam Mohammed Sheikh has drawn a very grim picture of the present India using very intricate and dark narratives on a large canvas. Surprisingly, a similar feel is imparted by the work of Rameshwar Broota. There is a custom made ‘political painting’ by Riyas Komu who has used the image of Gandhiji in a dilated fashion, in his typical style. But one does wonder why his work is qualified as political art and him as political artist.
What makes the Vadehra booth interesting is the works of Juul Krajer, an Amsterdam based artist who has an Indian connection, the early drawings of Manjit Bawa, the early paintings of S.H.Raza and also a series of photography works by Atul Bhalla. Arun Kumar HG’s sculptures also raise hope in the future of the artist while one wonders why Jagannath Panda is going for an overt decorative style. Atul Bhalla’s series is interesting because he continues his search for water in Delhi and in Delhi’s history. He started off a few years back by making himself immersed in the dirty waters of Yamuna. He conducted several walks along the shores of Yamuna.
Atul Bhalla’s search for water continued in photographing the manholes all over the world and he kept his ear closer to the earth and photographed himself in different cities. He made a series of photographs where he photographed the free water holes in Delhi and elsewhere. His video on the plight of the plants planted on road dividers was one of the very poignant works. The present one in Vadehra is his final act of acknowledging the end of the search and his head perhaps hanging in shame or reverence.