An era of modern art came to an end on July 23, 2016, as Raza, the last surviving founder of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group Movement, breathed his last at the age of 94, leaving behind towering legacy of contemporary art. The loss was felt across the country as both the Prime Minister and the President mourned the stalwart’s death.
Next big names: Meanwhile, Indian artists continued a steady international representation, with four galleries — Experimenter (Kolkata), Nature Morte and Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi) and Chemould Prescott Road, (Mumbai) — participating at the fourth edition of Hong Kong’s Art Basel fair, which had 50 per cent representation from Asian and Asia-Pacific regions. A mixed bag of veteran and new artists were showcased at the modern and contemporary fair, with leading artists like Ravinder Reddy, Atul and Anju Dodiya being represented alongside newer names of Faig Ahmed, Ayesha Sultana and Rathin Barman.
The 11th Shanghai Biennale that featured nine Indian artists has been anchored in a continuing dialogue between some of the best minds in India and China. The highlight of the event was a site-specific and immersive light installation titled “Storm Deities” by Indian artist Vishal K Dar. Modernist painter M F Husain’s son, Owais Husain, who works largely in digital media was represented by London-based Gazelli Art House at Abu Dhabi Art programme in November this year. Two works by Owais titled, “Narcissism of Minor Differences-V” (2015) and “In a play of mutual influences-IV” (2016) were presented during the programme.
Int’l recognition to Indian art: A growing international interest in Indian art was also reflected in auctions across the globe, with artworks by contemporary artists selling for overwhelming prices and setting new records. According to London-based auction house Bonhams, the global market for Indian art has only boomed in the past two decades and is expected to continue to grow. “In the past 20 years or so the market for Indian art has flourished. As major institutions including the Guggenheim, Tate and Pompidou have staged substantial exhibitions of Indian artists, market interest has grown. We continue to see the market thrive,” Tahmina Ghaffar from Bonhams said.
Modernist painter Akbar Padamsee’s metascape titled ‘Greek Landscape’ fetched a record Rs 19.19 crore at one of the auctions by Saffronart. Bhupen Khakhar’s modern masterpiece ‘Man in Pub’ sold for over Rs 2 crore at Bonhams’ Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale in London, placing it amongst the top five works by the artist to be sold at an auction.
Home scene: At home, the art world tread an impressively consistent path with the country abuzz with exhibitions, art fairs and biennales, spanning on different genres of art in multiple media.
Recurrent themes included women empowerment, tribal art, introspection by the artist, as well as global issues like climate change and world peace, besides a host of exhibitions showcasing works by revolutionary artists such Ganesh Pyne, Lalu Prasad Shaw, and B M Anand among others. The third edition of the Kochi Biennale that began on December 12 will continue India’s feat in the artistic world into the next year with creative works of 97 artists.