Foreign artists showing in India may be a recent trend and Indian artists showing abroad old hat. But over the past year or so, there has been a spate of such shows, each one more high profile than the last.
The most significant of these is ‘Indian Highway’ at London’s Serpentine Gallery, which opened on December 10 last year and will continue until February 22. It features 19 artists — established names like Subodh Gupta, N.S. Harsha, Dayanita Singh alongside relative unknowns like Kiran Subbaiah and Tejal Shah — all of whom demonstrate “an active political and social engagement, examining complex issues in contemporary India that include environmentalism, religious sectarianism, globalisation, gender, sexuality and class”.
Galleries showcase trends, but it’s the museums that decide the canon — which artist will be remembered in times to come, and which ones forgotten. In this connection, ‘Chalo India’ at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (November 22-March 15), assumes importance. A large format show, it has seniors like Vivan Sundaram and Gulammohammed Sheikh together with upcoming ones like Tushar Joag and Sarnath Banerjee.
In February, India will be the special invitee to ArcoMadrid, one of the oldest art fairs in the world. There’ll be 13 galleries in the India pavilion, among them Bodhi Art, Chatterjee & Lal, Nature Morte, PhotoInk, Gallery SKE and Kashi Art from Kochi. The world, it seems, is waking up to contemporary Indian art.