The vernacular triumphed in the form of numerous poetry festivals and biennales in the country this year.
The year 2017 has, to say the least, been an eventful one for Indian art. January witnessed art connoisseurs travelling between the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 and the India Art Fair 2017. While the Art Fair stood in need of fresh blood, the Biennale curated by the elusive genius, Sudarshan Shetty, brought to the forefront some exquisite art to Aspinwall House, Kochi. The vernacular triumphed in the form of numerous poetry festivals and biennales in the country this year.
The year also saw the advent of South Indian artists. The seminal exhibitions, Dvani se Shabd aur Chinh at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi and Amruta Kalasha at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Delhi celebrated South India’s contribution in shaping Indian art. The Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi presented the political works of K. G Subramanyan at the noteworthy exposition Seeking Poetry of the Real. The exhibition of G.Reghu’s ceramic and bronze sculptures, Sentient Beings at the same space further strengthened the region’s tradition of producing technically adept voices in Indian art.
Indian art fared well overseas. Paris played host to retrospectives of two contemporary Indian artists, Nalini Malani and Jayashree Chakraborty at Centre Pompidou and Musée Guimet. Rahgubir Singh and Zarina Hashmi’s works found appreciation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Asian/ American Institute in New York. Though the Indian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale was reduced to one artist, the works of Rina Banerjee stood out at the central exhibition Viva Arte Viva, curated by Christine Macel.
While Indian art has made remarkable progress this year, it has suffered minor setbacks. The art market is still reeling from the effects of demonetisation and the introduction of GST of 12 per cent on sale. Though the primary art market still stumbles in the dark, the secondary market saw some light at auctions in London and New Delhi. The Christie’s London auction set a new world auction record for the Indian modern artist, Tyeb Mehta. His work, Untitled (Woman on Rickshaw) sold at `22.9 crore. The Sotheby’s auction in New Delhi witnessed a record bid of `9.5 crore for Bhupen Khakar’s work, De-Luxe Tailors.
Despite these holdups, the year 2018 comes with some joy in the form of a pivotal exhibition on Zarina Hashmi, India Art Fair 2018, and the new edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale curated by the contemporary genius, Anita Dube.
(Shruthi Issac is an independent art curator and writer)