Amitabh Bachchan is a bearded Superman and Shah Rukh wears the red and blue costume of Spider Man. The two Bollywood stars are not part of any new superhero flick. Instead, these ‘avatars’ are the imagination of an Italian pop artist.
The Bollywood toys, a trio of Amitabh, Shah Rukh and Anil Kapoor, by David Cesaria are part of the first-ever exhibition of Italian neo-pop art in the country.
After a show in Mumbai, the exhibition titled ‘Dadaumpop’ is now being showcased in Delhi and curator Igor Zanti, says that India, with it’s colours and characters, is the spiritual home of all things pop.
Zanti commissioned Cesaria to spend a year in India to come up with a special work on the country and the 3D installations are now the special attraction at the exhibition, which has been put together in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy.
Zanti, who put together the collection, which includes a bust of a drag queen titled ‘Mr Prinetti’, a collection of black and white portraits of Disney characters by a 75-year-old, among others, says that the exhibition is a sort of homecoming, as the second wave of pop art originated in Asia.
"The first pop movement began in Europe and I consider French artist Marcel Duchamp the father of pop art. From Europe it went to the US, where Andy Warhol became a cult name. And the second movement began in Asia, especially Japan. India is a huge influence on pop artists across the world," said Zanti.
Be it Bollywood, its festivals or its gods, Indian culture is full of elements that make pop-art distinctive, said Zanti.
"Pop art distinguishes itself with the use of colour and India is such a colourful country. Bollywood and its heroes and heroines also have the same over-the-top aesthetic as the genre," said Zanti.
But for those who think that the genre is just about colour and cartoons, Zanti points out that pop art emerged as a form of social commentary.
"Pop art is a political form of art. It’s about irony," said Zanti, pointing to a painting by artist Teresa Morelli, showing a male version of the Disney princess Snow White biting into a transgenic apple.
"It’s a comment on the dangers of genetically modified food and how it can affect our health and society," explained Zanti. The exhibition which was inaugurated by the Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforto, the Ambassador of Italy to India, will be open to the public for two weeks at the Italian Culture Centre here.
Get your pop fix
What: Dadaumpop, an exhibition of Italian pop art
Where: Italian Cultural Centre, 50-E Chandragupta Marg
On till: March 20
Pop art for dummies
It’s an art movement that emerged in the mid 50s in Britain
The artist uses material from everyday life — advertising, comic books, cultural objects, TV shows and even discarded waste