Many attempts have been made to take art out of its supposed elite circles. The latest venture is by Popular Prakashan’s Foundation B&G, which recently launched a series of art books on some influential Indian artists.
“The idea was to put together analytical art books for art enthusiasts. We wanted to publish books devoid of jargon associated with art writing. It can be understood by all and is priced in a manner that anyone interested can buy it,” says Harsha Bhatkal, chairman, Foundation B&G, who has launched four out of the 14 books that his publishing house will release this year. Art book are rarely cheap, but The Dialogue series, which currently artists like Anju and Atul Dodiya, Baiju Parthan, Veer Munshiself and Manu Parekh, is priced below R 200.
The real challenge, however, lies in making art accessible to the masses, without watering down its analytic and aesthetic content. But with two of the best-known art critics in India, Ranjit Hoskote and Nancy Adajania, collaborating for the series, there are no doubts about its standards. The point of reference for Hoskote and Adajania came from Hans Ulrich Obrist's series titled Conversations. “Nancy and I have been interested in spreading the knowledge on visual artists. We’ve been hosting public conservations with artists for a while now, so the idea just fell in place,” says Hoskote.
The books began with conversations that Hoskote and Adajania shared with the artists during different cultural trips. “Like with Anju Dodiya, the two went to Turkey with the artists and that’s where the book started,” says Bhatkal. About the dialogue format of the book, Hoskote feels that it is the most ideal one, employed from time immemorial. “It’s not an essay on art or an interview or memoir of the artist. Nor is the book a dialogue as the name suggests. Rather it’s a trilogue between the artist, Nancy and me, with questions going back and forth," he adds.
The book is an art book, without being a coffee table book. “There are about 20 pictures spanning from each artist’s career, but the content makes it more text heavy,” adds Bhatkal. The publishing house also hopes to translate the books to Hindi and Marathi to bring art to all.
The Dialogue series on Anju and Atul Dodiya, Baiju Parthan, Veer Munshiself, Manu Parekh out on Foundation B&G, is available at bookstores across the city.
Price R 175.