Artists from India and Italy display the complexities of our times with their art

Artists from India and Italy display the complexities of our times with their art

A group of Indian and Italian artists responds to the complexities and turbulence of the times we live in

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Atul Bhalla/Vadehra Art Gallery

The fair hands of Amsterdam-based Italian artist Maura Biava holding an ice-cream cone sculpture, made from clay, is the subject of her photographic work titled Hypotrochoid of Albrecht Dürer & Apion of Giordano Riccati #04. The title derives its name from a combination of names of mathematicians who studied formulae and generated the star-shaped ice-cream cone, and refers to the moulding of soft ice-cream.

In another work, she has moulded a globe-shaped sculpture. Part of the exhibition “A Preview to Desolation”, on display at Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, Delhi, the work serves as a subtle critique on the issue of migration, of how displaced people are forced to adapt to new conditions and undergo trauma, in the process.

“The integration of migrants is a difficult process as they try to merge into a different class in another society, and are expected to learn a new language and act in a certain way,” says curator Premjish Achari. He has brought together eight Indian and Italian artists from India and Italy to respond to the complexities of modern times through 30 works comprising photographs, drawings and videos.

He adds, “The show is a response to the violence, refugee crisis and other political problems surrounding us today and the indifference that prevails in the world, without any offer of solidarity and sympathy for the oppressed. This includes the killing of rationalists and activists such as MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in India, in the last few years, people being lynched and killed due to their food preferences and repeated warnings to minorities to leave the country. Even the slightest criticism against the nation gets one branded as anti-national. Scientific thinking has been undermined and it is the general culture of silencing that bothers me.”


Delhi-based artist Atul Bhalla’s Still Life with Fictious Object has the image of a chunk of meat placed on a plate, resting on a table, leaving viewers to ponder upon their interpretations of violence, killing or mutilation. In Fictious Landscape I, he has juxtaposed the flower motif resting on the ceiling of Guru Ki Maseet (a UNESCO heritage site), the mosque built by a Sikh in his native village Sri Hargobindpur in Punjab, against its landscape.

In his ‘City Unclaimed’ series, artist Gigi Scaria, a consistent chronicler of Delhi, has created a collage of photographic views of skyscrapers, individual plots and slums in the Capital, and placed the slums at the centre while the highrises show up in the periphery. “The nature of the city is unorganised, where tall skyscrapers and middle-class houses take centrestage and the slums are pushed to the borders. He has reorganised it and put forward questions of who owns the city,” says Achari.

Noida-based artist Tushar Joag’s quadriptych work Submerged displays the parts of a motorcycle enveloped in water, which has emerged out of his performative piece in 2010 after he had travelled from Mumbai to Shanghai on his Bullet bike. During the journey, the 51-year-old encountered people who were affected and displaced by the construction of mega projects, such as the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the Three Gorges Dam in China. Later, the same bike was dismantled, submerged in water in Shanghai and photographed.

He says, “Affluent farmers with one or two storey houses and indigenous adivasis of the Narmada valley are being displaced and forcibly thrown out of their land without any compensation and forced to live in tin sheds, that are not even fit for cattle. These projects in the name of development end up bringing disenfranchisement. Urban folk appear to be apathetic to those living in rural India.”

The exhibition is on at Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, Chanakyapuri, till October 1.