The art scene in the capital has been rather exciting over the past few days and included an auction a very special art exhibition and even an art related fashion show. To begin with, there was the Autumn Art Bull Auction on November 21. This was the 3rd Art Bull Auction held in the capital within the past year and a half. Presented by Gallery Art Consult, the auction was enlivened by some rather exciting bidding by those who had their hearts set on acquiring works by their favourite painters. Some of the biggest luminaries of India’s art world were represented by some very special and some less appealing artworks. On the whole, the collection would be considered above average and included the biggest names including FN Souza, MF Husain, Manjit Bawa, Gaitonde, Jamini Roy, Arpana Cour and many others. Bawa’s work fetched the highest price of Rs 70 lakh, followed by Thota Vaikuntham’s at Rs 15 lacs. Satish Gujral (canvas), Tyeb Mehta (ink on paper) and Raza (canvas) all achieved a sale of Rs 13 lakh. Many of the works were lapped up very fast, though getting a good price for the work of even the most famous painters was not easy. The interesting part was that despite the continuing slump in art sales over the past 2 years, almost every lot was received with some enthusiasm.
The second event is the next episode of Delhi Art Gallery’s famous series of group shows — Manifestations VIII, which was previewed on November 21. In its 8th avatar, the latest exhibition in the series offers 20th century Indian art, through the works of 75 artists. All important artists, that we know and can think of, are part of this amazing show — possibly comprising some of the best efforts of these who are part of the show. Souza is represented by a large rather sombre, horizontal landscape, Swaminathan’s rock formations in shades of green is remarkably appealing, while Tyeb Mehta’s combination of colours — often all the primary ones clubbed together in the most sublime manner — remains his strongest point. There are important works by MF Husain, SH Raza, VS Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna, Rabindranath Tagore and others. There are so many artists in this show that it will need three columns to do justice to the works on show. However, I cannot resist commenting on what to my eyes is the most appealing, Satish Gujral’s famous painting from his Partition series. In keeping with the DAG’s normal practice of keeping the exhibition open for at least a month, Manifestations VIII, which opened on November 22, will be open till December 29. I would strongly advise all art lovers to try and see this very important show.
The third event, should actually be considered an ‘arts’ event, combining painting with fashion and dance. This interesting programme was the brainchild of painter and curator Alka Raghuvanshi. Paintings by some leading artists were reproduced to digitally embellish outfits. These interesting garments were then paraded on the catwalk by artists and other exponents of the arts — for instance, dancers Shovana Narayan, Sonal Mansingh and Sharon Lowen walked the ramp with the painters whose works were used in creating were paired off with the artists whose works helped to create this very rare and highly creative collection.
Another important confluence has been planned for the 10th anniversary of Khoj, a Delhi-based organisation that has dedicated itself to experiments in various contemporary art practices. Now, just over a decade old, Khoj is located in the Khirkee Extension area of South Delhi. For their 10th anniversary, a 3-day activity was planned between November 23-25, when the Khirkee community doubled up as artists, musicians, theatre artists and more. The art exhibition presented a history of the locality through maps and legends provided by the older generation residing in the area. There was the painting of the Khirkee murals, where local artists came together to focus on the changing face off the locality. There were also music concerts by local band Tariq, under the brand, Khirkee Raag. It is heartening to find that such art activities are continuing to make life interesting for the locals and also creating a sense of history among the younger lot. This is the sort of activity that neighbourhoods in other cities could also emulate to their common advantage.
(The writer is a winner of many advertising design awards and a painter of repute)