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Exhibiting excellence

Old masters and young thinkers, funky installations and quirky videos - all this and more at Harvest ’08. Damini Purkayastha finds out.

art and culture Updated: Aug 08, 2008 14:12 IST
Damini Purkayastha

Husain and Raza share space with Sonia Khurana. Installations vie for attention with video art, while the modern masters look upon experimental young contemporaries. Welcome to Harvest '08, an annual show organised by Arushi Arts that celebrates Indian art in all its difference.

With over 100 participating artists, this year the show has been divided into two parts: The Masters/Abstracts and Young Contemporary Artists. The first, Harvest I, as the name suggests, brings together works by masters like FN Souza, Ram Kumar, MF Husain and Paresh Maiety. The second, Harvest II, showcases new trends in Indian art, with artists like Riyas Comu, Bose Krishnamachari, Roy Thomas and Venkat Bothsa.

What's new?
But the real highlight of the show is the introduction of photography and video art. "Photography has been around and video has been evolving, but we wanted to wait before we showcased them as a real trend in Indian art, one that the audiences were ready for," said Payal Kapoor, the founder of Arushi Arts.

The two video artists are Sonia Khurana and Surekha. Khurana's two-minute long performance video Bird went under the hammer at Sotheby's last year with an estimated bid of $50,000-$60,00, a record for an Indian video artist.

How it all began
The idea for Harvest came to Kapoor in 2001, a time she recalls as one "where there was no catalogue where all forms of Indian art came together. I was sitting with [art critic] Suneet Chopra and we thought that every year there must be at least one catalogue that showcases the trends in Indian art." Today, Kapoor says they have over 1,000 clients all over the world and some have been collecting each of the catalogues over the eight years. Harvest began as a platform for young artists (at a time when they weren't given much attention) to measure up against the masters, and an opportunity for collectors, too, to test their mettle.

Price and opportunity
Kapoor says that at Harvest, prices begin as low as Rs 8,000. "The works here are not sold at auction rates. They are at prices the artists fix themselves. We want to give people a reassurance that the works are good investments, regardless of prices," she says, adding that artists can exhibit their works only by invitation. "It's not like anyone can showcase their work, we decide whom to invite."

Kapoor goes on, "There is so much to offer in Indian art - the point of the exhibition is to celebrate that. We want to show people that besides the old masters who represent culture and tradition, there is the new modern nation, a phenomenon evident in art."

Harvest I is on at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, on August 14-15 and at Arushi Arts (36, Okhla Phase 1) on August 17-22

Harvest II is on at Stainless Gallery, Mira Complex, Ishwar Nagar, on August 19-24