What constitutes an artwork? If the ongoing India Art Fair at the national capital is anything to go by, it could be a melting carpet, a dark tent, a potted lemon plant, a cup of coffee, some giant ants or even a car. Although the appeal of the old masters and their paintings and sculptures remains intact, the language of art, it seems, is moving away from familiar territories.
Like in previous years, there is no dearth of the quirky and the unconventional at India Art Fair, the premier modern and contemporary art show that is now into its seventh edition. Italian artist Francesco Clemente’s Taking Refuge uses a tent that has its interiors painted with Buddha figures in dark shades of blue and grey. Animal heads — cats, mice — surround the Buddhas, evoking the cycle of life and death. The exterior, by way of contrast, consists of colourful applique work with gold embroidery, upon which the Buddhist
Vajrayana vow has been block-printed all over.
Some 50 giants ants crawl over the walls and across the grounds in Paresh Maity’s Procession. The not-to-be-missed installation “pays tribute to the resolute character of the ants and to their humble achievements”. The metallic ants are made with parts procured from Royal Enfield motorcycles. “The marked strength of the ants lies in their togetherness, and they harness this characteristic of their species to reach farther and deeper than most other beings. By making them in a larger-than-life size, we are trying to draw our attention to the exemplary standards and the undying spirit of these common ants,” says the Delhi-based Maity, who recently unveiled his show, Yatra, in the capital. The exhibition will be on view at Art Alive Gallery.
Priyanka Choudhary, a Delhi College of Art alumna, uses a unique live performance to draw the attention of the crowds. In her artwork titled The Art of Papilio Demoleus, Choudhary chews the bitter leaf of a potted lemon tree meditatively, which is placed on a wooden stool. The artist — in white — sits on another tall stool. The artist leans forward and plucks a leaf with her lips. She chews it, gets off the stool and faces the plant. She then proceeds to eat the entire plant like a goat. As per Choudhary, the idea is to show the ‘lemon butterfly’, also called ‘the butterfly of death’.
“It is a very beautiful insect and its caterpillar is the biggest destroyer of citrus plantations across the world,” she adds.
In his artwork titled Shapeless, Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed uses the most basic components of a deconstructed rug, woolen threads and Arabesque patterns, to “elasticise” the audience’s perceptions of the cultural icon.
The artist shows how ‘ideas that have been formed for ages are being changed in moments’. With his technique, Ahmed translates the language of traditional carpets into the language of contemporary art, creating bridges between cultures and historical periods.
On Saturday, Le Meridien organised a unique jugalbandi between an artist and his coffee. Europe-based Esther Maasdam, a global latte artist and four-time winner of the Dutch Latte Art Championship, along with Sohan Jakhar, a contemporary Indian visual artist whose canvas draws inspiration from city life, created custom work of art using coffee as inspiration. Esther developed signature latte art designs inspired by the city and Jakhar’s designs.
For the uninitiated, there’s also a BMW i8 hybrid sports car parked at the fair premises. Visitors can admire the highly-anticipated ‘work of art’ before it officially launches in the country on February 18.