When it comes to art fairs, the more the merrier

When it comes  to art fairs, the more the merrier
Art 14, the second edition of London’s global art fair, opens to the public at the Olympia Grand Hall on February 28 and will be on till March 3. In its second showing it will feature galleries from Lagos to Berlin, and Beijing to Dubai.

The upcoming Art 14 is keenly awaited as it brings in art that Londoners may otherwise not have had the opportunity of seeing. Art Fairs London is owned by Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus, the original founders of the popular Hong Kong International Art Fair. Art 14 London expects to ‘build on the strong foundation laid down by the 2013 fair,’ which attracted 25,000 visitors. We may thus accept the fair’s promise of delivering ‘a truly international vision of contemporary and modern art’ in an elegant setting right in the heart of London.

With Indian art becoming increasingly popular internationally, India’s leading art galleries have been quick to seize this opportunity to exhibit the work of India’s leading artists at this splendid location in Central London. The Olympia Grand Hall, which had been refurbished in time to host the first edition of the Art Fair, is located close to the Victoria & Albert Museum and offers easy access to Heathrow airport and London’s main train stations. Among the Indian art galleries who have confirmed their participation is Delhi Art Gallery, which will display 100 works of Modern Indian Art created by masters. Their pavilion will feature among others, Tyeb Mehta, MF Husain, FN Souza, VS Gaitonde and also include eminent younger artists such as Jogen Chowdhury and his peers.

CIMA Art Gallery in Kolkata will be featuring some of Jogen Chowdhury’s work being exhibited at present in Kolkata in the show, ‘Formative to Recent, Complete works’, which offers viewers the opportunity of seeing the evolution of the artist from his college days till now. Like so many others, his college work moved on to self portraits in which one can glimpse the strength of his line and the base of his minimalistic line drawings which are so much in demand. Even the Jogen Chowdhury portrait that is being exhibited at Art 14 in London by the Delhi Art Gallery — though not minimalistic drawings — follows the pattern of strong lines that were perceived in his early works.

It has been said Jogen Chowdhury is ‘a master of lines and he has mastered to make the curves depict the character of his figures. By careful distortion of the form he imparts the air of caricature in his figures’. This is a very important element in Chowdhury’s work and his rather decorative method of distortion of figures, offers moods that are often embellished and enhanced by other familiar objects, in a rather surrealistic manner. In this he follows the path of other artists who choose to convey their ire about happenings around them in a satirical manner, sometimes creating situations through nature and at other times through objects strewn around a home. In fact often the figures themselves are contorted to seem like animals, trees and fruit — this perhaps is the ultimate caricature of the human figure.

Eminent art historian R Siva Kumar, described Jogen’s works in the following excerpt: “The pulse and rhythm of Jogen Chowdhury’s art comes from a filial affinity to nature and milieu”. The exhibition is on at the CIMA Art Gallery till March 20.

(The writer is an author and a former art gallery owner)

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