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Posts Tagged ‘Gallery Espace’

Bani Abidi on Indian video art, a medium on the rise – interview Tehelka Magazine

Posted by artradar on August 18, 2009


CONTEMPORARY INDIAN VIDEO ART

Who are the emerging Indian video artists and the collectors of this up-and-coming genre? How can collectors display the work and should they be concerned with authenticity? Where can video art be seen and bought? Read on to find out more:

Video art: it is new

Video has the capacity to move a viewer, express emotion, and provoke thought. It is no surprise, then, that contemporary artists who have grown up exposed to moving images and storytelling films are utilizing video to express their artworks, and the medium has been elevated to a fine art that is being embraced by museums and collectors alike.

However, video art has only existed for about the past 50 years, or since the equipment became easily available to creatives for use. It surprisingly took awhile to gain momentum in India, a country with a rich film-making history, and has only gained popularity in the past few years.

But it is here to stay

Now, however, video is a mainstay in the contemporary Indian art scene with galleries exclusively devoted to the medium such as the Apeejay Gallery which has solely shown video and film art for the past 5 years. Video art is a necessary part of the best well-rounded contemporary art collections too and can be found in important collections such as the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection with the Devi Art Foundation.

But, the question remains, what exactly is video art, and how is it different from ordinary film?

So what is it exactly?

Bani Abidi, an active Pakistani video artist with pieces on display at museums including the MoMA in New York and the Devi Art Foundation Delhi, sheds some light on the distinction of video art in an interview with Tehelka Magazine.

Mangoes, 1999, by Bani Abidi. Video, Single Channel, 3:24 sec. Two expatriate Pakistani and Indian women sit and eat mangoes together and reminisce about their childhood. An otherwise touching encounter turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, a comment on the heightened sense of nostalgia and nationalism that exists in the Indian and Pakistani Diaspora. Both the women are played by the artist, stressing the idea of a shared history.

Mangoes, 1999, by Bani Abidi. Video, Single Channel, 3:24 sec. "Two expatriate Pakistani and Indian women sit and eat mangoes together and reminisce about their childhood. An otherwise touching encounter turns sour when they start comparing the range of mangoes grown in either country, a comment on the heightened sense of nostalgia and nationalism that exists in the Indian and Pakistani Diaspora. Both the women are played by the artist, stressing the idea of a shared history."

“…A lot of artists work with abstract images. But then many don’t. The conventional idea of a plot, with a beginning, middle and end is only one way of storytelling. So if one wants to engage fully with the history and potential of the moving image, whether it is a feature film, a documentary, experimental cinema or an art work, the attachment to plot needs to loosen.

Defining video art is as difficult as trying to define painting as this or that type of image. Video art as a term makes more sense in historic terms. In the late 1960s, artists in Europe, Japan and North America had a grand time with the arrival of the first camcorder, the Sony Portapak…

Over the years, video art’s practitioners, influences and mediums have changed. The video medium is no longer of essence. Some artists use 16mm film and elaborate production methods to make short films, others fix their cameras on tripods and shoot performances in their studio. Some use broadcast quality video equipment to shoot an experimental documentary on the streets and yet another lot might just use archival television footage as material”

Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004, by Bani Adibi. Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec. " Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec  Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004  In November of 2003, the artist commissioned a brass pipe band in Lahore to learn how to play the American National Anthem, a piece that was not a part of their existing repertoire. Over an afternoon's sitting of listening to a recording of the music that had been provided them, and after much fumbling and practicing they were able to perform a version of it. The video is a recording of this process as well as a glimpse of their interaction and physical surroundings.  This piece is a metaphor for all forms of clumsy and forced cultural and political acquiescence that various individuals and governments have had to display towards the US in the past 3 years."

Shan Pipe Band Learns the Star Spangled Banner, 2004, by Bani Adibi. Video, Double Channel, 7:30 sec. "In November of 2003, the artist commissioned a brass pipe band in Lahore to learn how to play the American National Anthem, a piece that was not a part of their existing repertoire. Over an afternoon's sitting of listening to a recording of the music that had been provided them, and after much fumbling and practicing they were able to perform a version of it. The video is a recording of this process as well as a glimpse of their interaction and physical surroundings. This piece is a metaphor for all forms of clumsy and forced cultural and political acquiescence that various individuals and governments have had to display towards the US in the past 3 years."

When asked where to go to experience video art in India, Abidi replied:

Big galleries in Indian metros frequently feature video art. Gallery Espace in New Delhi hosted a year-long program called Video Wednesdays, where guest curators were invited to present their selection of videos once a week. It culminated in a discussion and a final show which took place last week. At the India Art Summit in Delhi (August 19 to 21 2009) you can watch over 90 videos.

Regarding notable Indian video artists, Abidi commented:

Nalini Malini and Ranbir Kaleka are two of the most senior practitioners of this medium and both incorporate their experience of painting and art history in their projects. A filmmaker like Amar Kanwar comes from a documentary film tradition. Younger artists like Shilpa Gupta, Sonia Khurana and Kiran Subbaiah move between the roles of activist, performer and cinematographer.

'Bird', by Sonia Khurana. Performance video, 1999. Duration, 2 minutes. Videotape, black and white, silent. Performed, shot, edited and conceptualized by Sonia Khurana.

'Bird', by Sonia Khurana. Performance video, 1999. Duration, 2 minutes. Videotape, black and white, silent. Performed, shot, edited and conceptualized by Sonia Khurana.

DISPLAY

An important distinction of video art lies within its display, which is a deliberate and important element of the artwork, and distinguishes it as more of an installation art piece than a conventional film.  Some artists provide buyers with highly specific drawn instruction of their display design, while others only require works to be played in a loop on a wall-mounted flat screen. Custom plans for the display of video art in a buyer’s home can get extremely creative, and include projection on suspended screens or other unexpected surfaces.

BUYERS

The all important question among the commercially minded arts scene: Does it sell?!? Like all commercially available art, contemporary video artists are keen to find collectors. Bhavna Kakar is a curatur-turned-gallerist who is embarking on a project promoting Indian video artists, and during an interview with the Times of India he remarks, “Five years ago, there were no takers but now works are selling.”

Auction houses are also promoting Indian video art, with Sotheby’s selling Sonia Khurana’s video work Bird: Retake in the 2007 Southeast Asian art auction. Indian video artists have found support in both private collectors and museums, and an emerging group of contemporary art collectors, including the notable private collectors Anurag Khanna and Swapan Seth,  have collections that are mostly comprised of video artworks.

AUTHENTICITY

Video art may have a viable base of enthusiastic collectors, but a common problem now with the buying and selling of video is the issue of unauthorized replication that devalues the legitimate limited edition works produced by an artist. This problem has been addressed with authenticity certificates, which are official documents required for the buying and reselling of pieces. Artists are also including watermarks in their videos, which can indicate authenticity to curators.

Curators and gallerists believe that video art is a natural progression for the generation that grew up in front of the TV and surfing the internet [Times of India.] In addition, convenient platforms like Youtube  are making the display of video artworks to vast audiences very easy and cheap. The nature of video is also very tactile, as it can be easily edited and changed to create something new. Considering all these traits, more talented, tech-savvy youthful artists are sure to emerge. Arts-watchers should know, video art is officially a trend.

Read full interview with Tehelka Magazine here.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Anupam Poddar, Collectors, India, Indian, Interviews, Museum collectors, Nalini Malini, New Delhi, Shilpa Gupta, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

India Art Summit August 2008 is India’s first contemporary art fair

Posted by artradar on August 13, 2008


Sohan Qadri

Sohan Qadri

 

 

INDIA ART FAIR India is hosting its first art fair of modern and contemporary art called “India Art Summit”. It will be held from the 22nd to the 24th of August 2008, at Pragati Maidan (ITPO) New Delhi.

More than 30 galleries from India and abroad will show works in an area of 1400 square metres. The three day event is expected to attract thousands of people.

Anjolie Ela Menon, one of India’s most outstanding contemporary artists and one of the patrons of the India Art Summit along with artists SH Raza and Krishen Khanna and art critic Keshav Malik, sees this fair as a gateway to the future of modern and contemporary art reports the magazine Asian Art News.

“It’s high time that India offered and art fair to the world” says Renu Modi of Gallery Espace.

Established artists on show will include MF Husain, Vaikuntham, Sohan Qadri, FN Souza, Atul Dodiya and Riyas Komu.

Younger artists such as Babu Xavier, Thukral and Tagra, Birendra Pani, Mekhala Bahl, Rooshika Patel, Sara, Tanmoy Samanta, Apurva Desai, CF John, Debraj Goswami, Pratul Dash, Murali Cheeroth, TM Azis, Raqs Media Collective will attract younger collectors.

Murali Cheeroth

Murali Cheeroth

Sculptors include Nagji Patel, Saroj Kumar Singh and Arzan Khambatta.

The timing is right says Asian Art News: Indian art’s bouyant annual growth rate is estimated to be 30 to 35%.

There will be networking opportunities at the concurrent Art Forum with speakers such as Rajeev Lochan, director National Gallery of Modern Art, art critics Geeta Kapur and Gayatri Sinha, Robert Storr dean Yale School of Art and Hugo Weihe Christie’s head of Asian Art.

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Emerging Pakistani artists getting noticed in India and abroad

Posted by artradar on July 11, 2008


CONTEMPORARY ART PAKISTAN  Rashid Rana occupies a unique position among Pakistan’s contemporary artists and has been a hit internationally. Rashid Rana is a star, whether it’s in Lahore, Mumbai or Hong Kong. The Pakistani artist wowed the crowds who flocked to his Mumbai show in November 2007. And he received an equally rapturous response last month at HK 08, the inaugural Hong Kong Art Fair.

The overwhelming response to Rana’s eye-catching work didn’t come as the slightest surprise to two Mumbai art galleries. Chatterjee & Lal and Chemould Prescott Road jointly organised the show of Rana’s digital photo-montages at HK 08 and they were absolutely certain that it would receive critical acclaim. “It was all sold out,” says Mortimer Chatterjee, partner, Chatterjee & Lal.

 

Artist names attracting attention

Rana occupies a unique position among contemporary Pakistani artists and he has made a huge name for himself internationally. But he isn’t the only artist from across the border who’s attracting the attention of connoisseurs in India. In the last two months, three shows by Pakistani artists like Bani Abidi, Ali Kazim and Muhmmad Zeeshan have been held across Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. And many more are planned in the coming 12 months.

 

Collector Anupam Poddar buying Pakistani art with plans for show

Or take a look at art collector Anupam Poddar, who has built a sizeable collection of contemporary Pakistani art. His Devi Art Foundation is doing the groundwork for a show in March 2009, which will be curated by Rana.

 

Indian interest in Pakistani art

“Interest in Pakistani art is increasing in India,” says Peter Nagy of Delhi’s Nature Morte, who held the first solo show of Rana’s work in India and then helped take his work overseas.So, is Pakistani art the next Big Thing in India? Many art experts believe the interest in Pakistani art is only natural. Says Chatterjee: “There are so many lines of inter-connection between the concerns of Pakistani artists and the lives of normal Indians that often the subject matter is entirely relevant to an Indian audience.”There’s also, as Rana says, “a kind of mutual obsession on both sides of the border, fostered by shared histories, the trauma of Partition and the years of hostility and inaccessibility.”

 

Pakistani art more visible in auctions and fairs

Certainly Pakistani art, like Indian art, is suddenly becoming more visible at international art fairs and auctions. For instance, works by Talha Rathore and Nusra Ali Qureishi sold at auctions held by Christie’s and Saffronart recently.

 

Bani Abidi – female video artist

For Bangalore-based GALLERYSKE‘s founder, Sunitha Kumar Emmart who had been following Pakistani video artist Bani Abidi’s work, then, art fairs provided an opportunity to view the work of the Pakistani artist at first-hand. That led to a show by Abidi recently. “Regardless of nationality or gender, we have been interested in Bani’s work primarily for the strength of her practice and the clarity of her artistic vocabulary,” says Emmart. Abidi’s themes went down well with Bangalore art lovers. In the video piece, Reserved, she shows a city coming to a halt for a political bigwig. It has images of schoolchildren waiting to wave crumpled paper flags at a motorcade that never arrives – it was a theme, obviously, that Indian viewers could relate to.

“I’m interested in talking about a more complex identity formation along linguistic and cultural lines, rather than religious ones,” says Abidi, who was surprised by the response to her show. “This is the first time I’ve had a solo show in India. So, it was a first for me that this kind of attention was given to my work here and I value that,” she adds.

 

Ali Kazim – watercolours

Meanwhile, Ali Kazim’s mastery over watercolours drew a huge response at Delhi’s Gallery Espace. The show was held in collaboration with Green Cardamom, a UK-based institution that promotes South Asian artists.

 

Mohammad Zeeshan – contemporary miniatures

And in Mumbai, art lovers got to see Muhammad Zeeshan’s contemporary miniatures in his show, What Lies Beneath, organised by Delhi’s Anant Art Gallery.

“There’s a certain understanding regarding art that I find in Indians. And it feels good to be a foreigner only 40 minutes across the border and be identified with my imagery as an international artist,” says Zeeshan, who has shown in Delhi, Agra and Calcutta since 2005. Miniature artist Muhammad Zeeshan wants his images to tease the imagination as in Let’s Make A Great Pattern I and Untitled II.

 

2005 show in Mumbai was turning point

Pakistani artists are addressing issues like gender, politics and ethnicity in a language that’s contemporary and international, says art critic Quddus Mirza.

India’s interest in Pakistani art has been building gradually. The canvas was prepared by curators like Pooja Sood in India and Salima Hashmi in Pakistan, and institutions like Khoj International Artists’ Association and VASL Artists Residency in Delhi and Karachi, respectively. Khoj and VASL have held artists’ residencies since the late 1980s. Early shows like “Mappings: Shared Histories” curated by Sood too helped.

But till 2004, when Nature Morte held Rana’s first show here, public interest was low. Recalls Nagy: “There was good response from the art community but not from collectors.” That has changed now. One catalyst was the large show, Beyond Borders: Art from Pakistan, at Mumbai’s National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in 2005. It was co-curated by Pakistani artist and art critic Quddus Mirza and NGMA’s then director Saryu Doshi.

“I didn’t realise it would create such a stir. It was the first time that we were recognised as contemporary to India in art,” says Mirza.

 

Pakistan’s art described as contemporary, international, cutting-edge

Since then, the momentum has picked up, spurred by galleries and artists. Says Muhammad Umer Butt, artist and creative director, Grey Noise, a new virtual art gallery based in Pakistan: “Rashid [Rana] has played an instrumental role in introducing us Pakistanis to India.”

Mirza believes that apart from the “newness” factor, the similarities and differences between the two nations have attracted Indians. Shows like Beyond Borders also revealed that Pakistani artists aren’t “making Islamic calligraphy or veiled women”. “We’re painting nudes, addressing issues of gender, politics and ethnicity in a language that is contemporary and international. So perhaps that shattering of pre-conceived ideas was one source for the Indian attraction,” he says.

But it isn’t just cultural affinity that’s attracting Indian art lovers to the work from across the border. The fact is that cutting-edge work is coming out of Pakistan. Says Saffronart co-director Dinesh Vazirani: “Wherever collectors are looking at art from outside, they’re looking for innovation.” Hammad Nasar, co-founder, Green Cardamom, believes this is partly because, “for most of its 60-year existence, Pakistan has remained a cauldron of political and social upheaval.” He adds: “This has proved to be a fertile ground for artists to mine.”

Two broad categories: new media and contemporary miniatures

Certainly, it has thrown up a diverse palette. The Pakistani art scene can be broadly divided into two: there are artists working in new media, and there are those that have given a contemporary twist to the miniature tradition.

Indians, says gallerists, are interested in both types of works. The big draw, of course, is Rana with his multi-layered images and messages. Take his Red Carpetphoto-montage series – Red Carpet-1 incidentally sold for a record $623,400 at Sotheby’s recent Spring Sale of Contemporary Art. At first glance, the work appears to be a large Persian carpet. But when you look closer, there’s a series of tiny photographs of scenes from a slaughterhouse. The work reflects, in a sense, Rana’s formal and conceptual concerns. He says in his artist’s statement, “In today’s environment of uncertainty, we cannot have the privilege of a single world-view. Every image or idea already contains its opposite within itself.”

 

Other artists names

Other contemporary Pakistani artists are also being noticed around the world. There are prominent names like Naiza Khan, sculptor-photographer Huma Mulji, Hamra Abbas, Faiza Butt, Mohammad Ali Talpur, and sculptor Khalil Chishtee, whose recent work includes sculptures with garbage bags. Mulji’s Arabian Delight, for instance, was reportedly picked up by British collector Charles Saatchi for $8,000 at the recent Dubai Art Fair.

At a different level, there are the neo-miniaturists – Indian collectors who are familiar with miniatures are quite enthusiastic about this type of work. Miniature art is a strong discipline at Lahore’s National College of Art (NCA), and it has turned out stars like Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq and Shahzia Sikander, who made a name for herself internationally in the ’90s.Now there are newer miniaturists like Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Hasnat Mehmood, Talha Rathore and Zeeshan. “These artists have taken the South Asian tradition of miniature to new heights, and then moved beyond the page to invent a new visual language, rooted in tradition but of the here and now,” says Nasar.

Take Zeeshan, who began painting porn cinema posters before studying miniature work at NCA, and who combines the beauty of miniature with edgier themes of gender, dominance and violence. Zeeshan says he enjoys “teasing” the viewer. “And I think my images tease a lot. The oddity of the composition leads the viewer to dialogue and maybe, just for a second, ask, ‘What is this?” he says.

 

Pakistan’s art educational system strong…

Pakistan’s rich artistic output owes largely to its strong art educational system, especially since, unlike India, most practicing artists there also teach. “This has honed the critical edge of art here,” adds Rana.

 

But market infrastructure underdeveloped

For Pakistani artists too, India is an attractive destination, especially since the gallery infrastructure in Pakistan is still very underdeveloped. Grey Noise’s Butt says, apart from a few spaces like Rohtas 2 in Lahore: “We have showrooms but not galleries unfortunately.” Abidi too says, “The art market (in Pakistan) is almost non-existent and the small one that does exist is very conservative.” That’s why Butt felt compelled to found Grey Noise. “We’re the first virtual gallery to represent cutting-edge artists based in Pakistan,” he says.

 

International buyers showing interest

Already, Butt is “overwhelmed” by the response from India on his site. “I get a decent amount of taps from around the world and India takes the lead,” he says. Artists like Ayaz Jokhio, Mehreen Murtaza, Fahd Burki and Amna Hashmi are getting the most queries.

Even Indians living abroad are showing an interest in Pakistani art, according to Prajit Dutta, partner, Aicon Gallery, which is present in New York, Palo Alto and London. Last year, Aicon held two shows with Pakistani artists in London and New York. This year, it has done solos with Zeeshan and Talha Rathore in New York. Coming up in July is a show with installation and video artists Adeela Suleman, Jokhio and Fareeda Batool. And there’s a possible Naiza Khan show in New York next year. Dutta is also planning to show these artists in India. “We’ve got a great response from Western and Indian collectors,” he says.

 

Pakistani art attractive proposition

The boom in the international art market and growing interest in South Asia have made Pakistani art an attractive proposition, feels Rana, especially since art from South Asia is expected to emulate the global success of Chinese art. “Pakistani art benefits from a kind of trickle-down effect from this tremendous energy in the Indian art market,” he says.

 

Shows planned

The Pakistanis are obviously eager to make their mark in the booming Indian art mart. Green Cardamom, for instance, is planning two exhibitions in India next year, one by the acclaimed Hamra Abbas, who works in everything from video to animation, miniature painting and sculpture. In her Lessons on Love series, she transposed the romantic figures of Indian miniatures into sculpture. Says Green Cardamom’s Nasar: “India is a place where almost all our artists are keen to show. So we’ll figure out ways to do this to their best advantage.”

Nature Morte too will host a solo with Abbas in 2009 in Delhi and Calcutta. Besides, Abbas and Rana are part of a large canvas project Nagy’s working on with auction house Phillips de Pury in London in November, which will then travel to New York in January.

Meanwhile, GALLERYSKE‘s Emmart too plans to mount curated shows by Indian and Pakistani artists. Even Vazirani intends to increase the Pakistan section of Saffronart’s auctions. And he will hold a two-city show with Pakistani artists in Mumbai and New York in 2009.

 

Prices still low

To be sure, prices are one reason why Pakistani art is suddenly becoming popular here. As Indian art prices soar, there are better bargains to be had across the border. One art critic says that emerging artists from Pakistan offer “much better value than most Indian art now”. Vazirani too says: “There are opportunities to discover new artists.”

According to one gallerist, high-quality miniatures from Pakistan are typically priced between $10,000 and $20,000 though the masters are more expensive.Autumn II, a miniature by Zahoor-Ul-Akhlaq, for instance, sold at Christie’s’ auction of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art this month for over $39,000.

The artists, though, are sceptical of the commercialisation in the Indian art market. “What we have now is everyone trying to cash in, exploit the artist, and in some cases, the artist exploiting the buyer,” says Abidi.

Yet the artistic exchange seems set to continue – barring the arbitrariness of officialdom. And as Chatterjee says: “This is just the beginning.”

Image details: Rashid Rana

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