Gen-next artists of India on the rise

Updated: Sep 11, 2014, 18:12 PM IST

Art experts are optimistic about the rise of India's young contemporary artists, finds Farah Siddiqui.

It would be quite in order to say that Indian contemporary artists are fairly established in the global context of the art world. Works of Indian contemporary artists are increasingly showcased in major biennales, museums and institutions internationally as well as are included in the sales of the most renowned auction houses worldwide. In spite of the lack of infrastructure within the country, we have witnessed the coming of age for a number of Indian contemporary artists such as Atul Dodiya, Amar Kanwar, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Sudarshan Shetty and Jitish Kallat to name a few. Most of these artists are being represented by some of the premium art galleries in the world like Hauser & Wirth, Marian Goodman and Galleria Continua, amongst others. In the last ten years, there has been an accelerated awareness of the concept of an art market in India. There are more exhibitions, auctions; publications, awards and media exposure, which are increasing the understanding of this dynamic world.

Breaking Stereotypes

This elite class of young artists is completely different from the starving artists of decades ago. It should be noted that, in a single generation, there are no more than ten great artists whose names will go down in art history books and who will survive market fluctuations. It is important to understand that collecting young artists is far riskier as a financial investment than mid-career or established artists. It may take up to ten years to know who has ‘made it’. With younger artists, there is no reference point. It is also impossible for an artist to produce a masterpiece with each work and many young artists may not be able to take the pressure of producing great works for every exhibition. On the other hand, it is the most exciting part of the art market—to watch an artist develop his/her artistic virtuosity and the trajectory of the artist’s career. With the digital age, the younger generation of artists is more informed about the international art world, they are well-travelled and creating work that is relevant to present day India and the world. The young contemporary artists in India are shattering the typical stereotypical notions. Producing installations, photography, videos, paintings, drawings and mixed-media works, these young creative minds demonstrate extraordinary diverse skills and promise for the next generation of visual art practices.

Catch them young

Sree Goswami of Project 88, a project which focuses its programme on young experimental art, who recently showcased works by her artists at the Frieze Art Fair in New York, one of the world’s leading contemporary art fairs says, “We received overwhelming praise from visitors, collectors and curators for our artists. The incredibly positive response was very encouraging for young talent”. Artists to watch out for from this generation include Rohini Devasher, Sahej Rahal, Hemali Bhuta, T. Venkanna and Asim Waqif to name a few, all of whom are being represented by serious galleries, who are nurturing and incubating these artists for the long term. Mortimer Chatterjee, of Chatterjee & Lal, who represents Forbes Young Artist award winner, Sahej Rahal says “We take a long time to gauge the potential of an artist before we represent him/her. We build our relationship with the artist over years and take time to understand their philosophy and determine whether it fits with our gallery ethos”.

Creating Opportunities

Each of these artists speaks an individual contemporary language and creates a unique discourse, which has led curators from around the world to take notice. Many of them are being invited for residency programs, commissioned work for sculpture parks and museum exhibitions. The galleries, which represent these artists are placing the work of the artists in important collections locally and overseas for maximum impact and exposure. A gallery is always dependent on the evolution of an artist’s career. This new generation of artists has emerged less concerned with overtly political symbols and cultural identity, and more with conceptual processes and an international dialogue.