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Friday, August 19, 2022

Cream of the Crop

Have you read Creamier? That Shilpa Gupta features among its 100 emerging artists is just one reason.

Creamier could well be the name of a biscuit or a milk carton,but it is actually a classy broadsheet on art. Launched by Phaidon in 1998,the Cream series is meant to guide you through art fairs,foreground erudite opinions and tell you what is sexy and what is not in contemporary art. It has finally found its way to Indian shores and not without good reason. Its fifth and latest edition called Creamier — after Cream,Fresh Cream,Cream 3 and Ice Cream — features 10 international curators and 100 emerging artists where India is mentioned more than once in its 300 pages.

Musing on the future of contemporary art after the market correction,this 420 x 295 mm publication (which sells at

Rs 1,895) is quite a handful to read because of its size and small font. However,it has a certain authority about it — the size,minimalist design and the pink pages that resemble a financial newspaper’s are no coincidence. It has been designed to be and look like an “up-to-the minute” global survey of art.

Why is Creamier important and who reads it? Its importance grows beyond art lovers today as art touches more lives and more wallets. This funky,contemporary art newspaper/magazine is not just for specialists: none of the writings is inaccessible and the curators,who hold court in this issue,use plainspeak to explain complex concepts.

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According to Debra Singer,director and chief curator of The Kitchen in New York,the economic setback in the West affects bigger institutions and artists who were charging seven-figure prices for their art more than it does smaller galleries and up-and-coming artists. “Going from ‘how can we do more with little?’ to ‘how can we do more with less’ isn’t such a big leap —yet,” she muses.

Yukie Kamiya,chief curator of Hiroshima City Museum,believes that China,Japan,Korea and India are receiving an accelerated growth of attention. “Many new museums have opened (in Asia) at an amazingly fast pace,almost like the proliferation of Starbucks coffee outlets. But in reality there isn’t yet a sufficient variety of infrastructure for art in many Asian countries,” says Kamiya. The words ring true for India,which has seen a proliferation of private galleries while infrastructure lags sorely behind.

However,Kamiya points out that a ray of hope can be found in all the darkness. That is probably why we see artist Shilpa Gupta here. She is the only Indian among the 100 chosen names in this publication.

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Among the 100,what strikes you is the dominance of performance-based and video art and the virtual absence of conventional forms of painting and sculpture. The selection conveys the sense that the curators are looking at artists who push the envelope. Those who stand out in the 100 are 36-year-old Alexandra Bachzetsis,a performance artist and choreographer based in Zurich; Spartacus Chetwynd,37,a London-based artist who combines painting,performance and cultural theory in a blur of madness and genius; and Kalup Linzy,33,a video and performance artist born in Florida and living in New York whose work revolves around gender identity. There are also other artists like Lisa Anne Auerbach,43,born in Arbour,US,whose performance and installation work won her the Tiffany Award; and Tadasu Takamine,44,a Japanese artist who works with digital,installation and performance art.

A thorough read of Creamier should bring you up to speed with international art trends.

First published on: 08-01-2011 at 11:49:02 pm
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