Veer Munshi | 55
Serenity of Desolation
A 20x12x12 feet installation of a traditional Kashmiri wooden home with intricate carvings stands toppled on its head. It is a stark reminder of the September 2014 floods in the state, which affected 2,600 villages and left 390 of them submerged. Titled Serenity of Desolation, Srinagar-born Veer Munshi’s installation is both personal and political. It carries with it the memories of nature’s fury sweeping away lives and heritage. The house can be entered from its base, and inside are over a 100 small portraits that represent those affected by the flood. Munshi, who has spent over 28 years in the state, has painted these portraits from his memories of people — family, friends, artists, poets and ordinary citizens going about their day-to-day lives. There is also a video that plays at the far end of the house, which goes beyond the floods to speak about the different kinds of loss in the conflict-ridden state. For the artist, the project is one that is extremely close to his heart.
Muhammad Zeeshan | 35
Muhammad Zeeshan’s paintings in opaque water-colour on paper are placed in two large glass boxes. Over the course of three days, at the India Art Fair, a drip mechanism filled with black ink will change the way his paintings look. Through his project, the Karachi-born artist wishes to draw the audience’s attention to the brutal reality of art being finite. With every passing moment, the black ink alters how the painting is viewed and that allows the participants to appreciate in the here and now, and focus on the importance of time. “While international art fairs aim to promote art and enrich it as an industry, I present not just my work, but its slow and imminent ruin, thereby juxtaposing commoditised markets, collection and subsequent ownership, with the intrinsic value that art truly holds,” he says.
Francesco Clemente | 62
Although Italian painter Francesco Clemente’s relationship with India goes back over four decades, this is the first time he will exhibit his work in India. The artist, who is known to move from country to country, has now shifted base to Jodhpur and works with the tent makers in the timeless city. He has also collaborated with a range of Indian artisans in Orissa, Chennai, Varanasi and Jodhpur. His installation, titled Tent Makers (2013), has been put together using traditional techniques such as embroidery, block printing as well as his own paintings. The interior space of the tents is dark and a multitude of blue and grey painted Buddhas line the walls. Through illustrations of the heads of animals such as cats and mice, the artist wishes to raise questions about cycles of life and death, demise and return. The exterior of the tent combines a colourful, fragmented applique with lines of gold embroidery, within which is printed the Vajrayana (which is a sect of Buddhism) vow of ‘taking refuge’ — in expansive blocks of text.
Priyanka Choudhary | 38
The Art of Papilio Demoleus
Inspired by the Lemon Butterfly, Priyanka Choudhary’s performance is intriguing. The butterfly, also known as ‘the Butterfly of Death’, is a beautiful insect, and its caterpillar is the biggest destroyer of citrus plantations across the world. The artist, who has been trying to understand the dimensions of different kinds of violence through her earlier project, is now exploring the evolution that takes place through destruction — just like a caterpillar evolves into a beautiful butterfly after destroying citrus plants. Dressed in white, she sits on a tall stool, facing a large potted citrus plant on another stool. The artiste plucks the leaves of the plant one by one and proceeds to eat the entire plant. Her green dribble paints the front of her white dress. In an hour, the plant is bare. The lemons shine forth. The artist sits down on her stool in her green-stained dress. Through her performance, the artist wishes to explore who gains at the end of destruction. It is a question she will ask participants and wishes to answer for herself — What does it mean to be that destructive force? How does it affect one’s consciousness and physicality?
Rahul Kumar | 38
Circle Uncircled: An Installation in Ceramic
At first sight, Rahul Kumar’s 24×10 ceramic installation looks like a tiny solar system but each segment is carefully thought through. The design for his installation tries to increase the duration for which a viewer stands before his work — first to see the whole as a whole and then take in the details. Several platters in ochre yellow, cobalt blue and shades of green make up his project. With few exceptions, these platters have been hand-contoured to retain that essential element of deformity, suggesting the primacy of the earth and the smell of land and water, and of unrestrained skies. The rest have been shaped, fired and glazed for over 18 months. The surfaces are reflective and depending on light and shadow, will speak differently to different viewers.