Ayesha Singh, 29
She was still pursuing her graduation at the Slade School of Fine Art, when she began exploring architecture. “It started with photographs of Delhi. I began looking at spaces that might seem usual but had intriguing architectural histories… At that moment, I was looking at spaces that had hybridised architecture and how these were influenced,” says Singh. She adds, “Architecture is also influenced by colonial histories, the continuation of post-colonial hierarchies and the movement of cultures — I began to look at the way we view these narratives and how they are communicated subconsciously to us.” This continues to form the essence of her works. If in her 2017 solo “Stone, Paper, Pillar” at The Gujral Foundation in Delhi, she explored the evolution of the column from being a structural necessity to a decorative element, in her recent solo “It Was Never Concrete” at Shrine Empire Gallery, Singh delved into the power structures embedded in the cityscape of Delhi and how the city manifests in its architecture — from Hybrid Amalgamations, graphite and pencil on paper, that referenced parts of Delhi’s monuments from different periods, to Frayed Continuum, with discarded architectural ornaments, reflecting on global influences on traditional architecture, among others.
Manisha Parekh on her: I find her way of working really interesting and inspiring. She is a promising young artist dealing with a variety of mediums — working with fine lines and architectural spaces. She works with mild steel, a material that I have recently started using in my work, so we have had conversations about this material, which have been very productive. I have been observing her practice for some time and we have exhibited together at The Sculpture Park in Nahargarh, Jaipur. It is gratifying to see an artist’s work evolving and growing. I look forward to seeing what Ayesha is doing next.
Umesh Singh, 27
He was one of the three winners of Tata Trusts Students’ Biennale International Awards at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018-19. Singh gave voice to the suffering and struggling farmers, some of who had to quit farming to explore other means of livelihood for survival. An erstwhile farmer, Singh’s father left cultivation on his farmland in Kurmuri village in Bihar to become a security guard in Hyderabad, a decade ago. “I want their pleas to be heard,” says Singh. If at the 2019 Khoj Peers residency his installation Poora neel took off from the Champaran Satyagraha to discuss the predicament of the farmers today, in Barbil he created a bamboo structure following the technique used to build bridges in villages. “People have forgotten this art,” says Singh. At the recent Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, the postgraduate in fine arts from SN School of Arts and Communication created a site-specific installation using waste wood. “I created a dead jungle to emphasise on the need for maintaining an ecological balance,” says Singh, who makes a conscious effort not to use non-biodegradable materials.
Jagannath Panda on him: I heard about Umesh a few years ago and recently he was chosen by the curator to participate in the Barbil Art Project, that I organised. Extremely energetic, he has multiple approaches towards his practice. Coming from a farming backdrop, his works reflect his concern for ecology and farming issues.
Richa Duhan, 22
Belonging to Samalkha, a small village in Haryana, for Duhan art is a means to depict the gender disparities that she grew up witnessing. “I want to tell the world how we still live in a regressive environment where women are supposed to look after the household and are allowed no opportunities of progress,” says the final year masters student in fine arts at College of Art, Delhi. Winner of an award instituted by Abir Foundation in 2019, she uses materials such as wood, iron and waste tin to portray the challenges faced by women and how they overcome every obstacle. “Like rust iron, women too can face all difficulties,” says Duhan. The layered works has her stitching together metal sheets to create patterns. At her studio at Kaladhaam in Noida are several of her creations — from the 5×4 feet wall relief Around, with kitchen utensils and utility items such as scissors and an iron woven in metal, to Kadam, with terracotta slippers moving across an empty frame.
Gigi Scaria on her: I find Richa’s style to be very bold. She has the potential of coming up with really interesting work. I have visited her studio in Kaladhaam. Belonging to Haryana, I feel her genuine concern for gender issues reflects in her works, that are centered on feminine subjects. Even her treatment of material, primarily tin and wood, is very interesting.
Ankush Safaya, 34
Having participated in numerous group exhibitions, in 2019 Safaya made his solo debut with “Anantata — Hymns of Graphical Notation”, at Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai. Influenced by mechanisms, mathematical equations and his interest in minimal music, the works featured rhythmic patterns and fine lines. “My works play with movements and deal with forms. I attempt to find harmony in chaos,” says Safaya. Brought up in Hoshiarpur, the engineer left the corporate world to pursue his passion for art in 2012, followed by a residency at The Collective Studio Baroda and Site Art Space, where he made a sculpture from scrap metal. “Since I was an artist who was not from the realms of an art college, there were a lot of queries that I was addressing, specially my interest in cinema and music; the rhythm of art history,” says Baroda-based Safaya. Last year, he also made a presentation of his work at the TiEcon in Santa Clara.
Rekha Rodwittiya on him: An electronics engineer, who worked successfully within corporate India, seven years ago Ankush made a decision to wipe his slate clean and re-educate himself through a personal journey of imbibing, to become an artist. He blazed through 2019 with a meteoric rise in his emerging career as an artist. His work is refreshingly different from the trends of today. In my opinion he is an artist whose future is limitless.