In a dark hall, Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait suddenly pops up in HD, 4K quality on 17 giant LED screens placed around the viewer—the biggest screen is 52-feet-long and 18-feet-high. The camera starts zooming in on the master’s 1887 oil-on-canvas, focusing on the face before closing in on the eyes.
The project is part of The Drifting Canvas, an art exhibition with a multimedia twist. And it’s not just van Gogh that you can look forward to here. Other masters such as Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Amedeo Modigliani and Edgar Degas, too, are part of this ‘different’ exhibition. “It’s a combination of classic art and new technology. It’s also entertainment and education,” says Russian artist Yasha Yavorskaya, who has curated The Drifting Canvas, which is currently mounted at Select Citywalk mall in Saket, New Delhi. The exhibition, which has come to the capital from Shanghai, China, will travel to other Indian cities after it concludes in Delhi in mid-June. From there, it will travel on to other countries such as Germany, Brazil and Singapore.
The technology for the exhibition comes from Moscow-based ArtPlay, a design centre. “In the 19th century, when people looked out of their windows, they saw a few people and one horse-drawn carriage on the road. Today, that image is replaced by the madness of vehicles and people in the street,” says Yavorskaya. “By combining the art of 19th century with modern technology, we want to show how art can represent this new landscape,” she says.
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The polygonal projections at The Drifting Canvas, inaugurated by Union tourism and culture minister Mahesh Sharma last month, contain works of selected impressionist painters such as Monet, as well as avant-garde majors such as Wassily Kandisky—figures who changed the world of art. Besides post-impressionist artists such as van Gogh and Gauguin, there are also neo-impressionist painters such as Paul Signac who are part of the exhibition.
As per the curator, these artists represent the evolution of our society into what it has become today. “Monet is the first one who painted like cinema,” says Yavorskaya. “He worked with light,” she says, referring to the brightly-coloured works of the painter.
But it’s not just international art that you can look forward to here. There’s a separate show on contemporary Indian art as well. Desi Canvas, mounted as a series of eight exhibitions, features works by artists such as Anupam Sud, Paramjeet Singh, Biman B Das, Kanchan Chander, Kalicharan Gupta, Ananda Moy Banerjee, Ram V Sutar, etc. One of the highlights of Desi Canvas is Oorjaa, an all-woman show with artists Arpana Caur, Rashmi Khurana, Durga Kainthola, Shanti Kushwaha, Kavita Nambissan and Hemavathy Guha. “The diversity of emotions and expressions captured by the artists enticed me to put together this eclectic display,” says Desi Canvas curator Akshat Sinha.
Talking about the future, N Manikantan, CEO, Esperienza Exhibitions (which has bought the rights of the exhibition from ArtPlay), says, “The Drifting Canvas is going to create a much bigger ecosystem, where art, the artist and entertainment can come together and open up a space for a large number of people to come and enjoy. The exhibition’s high footfall can act as a springboard for other activities in future, including auctions, master classes by artists, art classes for children and retail.”
Faizal Khan is a freelancer