Generation to generation, Indian contemporary art on film

Indian art comes together across three decades and three generations in a new documentary film.

The world premiere of To Let the World In, a two-part documentary film featuring three generations of India’s visual artists by director and cinematographer Avijit Mukul Kishore, debuted at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, in South Yorkshire, UK on 13 and 14 June 2013.

Film still from 'To Let the World in' Image courtesy of Sheffield Docfest

Film still from ‘To Let the World In’. Image courtesy Sheffield Doc/Fest.

To Let the World In documents the development of contemporary art in India for the last thirty years, starting from the 1980s to the present.

The film previewed in Pune and Trivandrum, India, before its UK screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest. It was produced by Art Chennai to accompany the show “To Let The World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art“, curated by Chaitanya Sambrani. The exhibition, which was held in Chennai in 2012, featured three generations of Indian artists.

Gigi Scaria, ‘Panic City’, 2006, single channel video with sound (duration: 3 minutes). Image courtesy Chemould Prescott Road.

Gigi Scaria, ‘Panic City’, 2006, single channel video with sound (duration: 3 minutes). Image courtesy Chemould Prescott Road.

According to the exhibition’s curatorial statement,

The fundamental premise of the exhibition stems from the post-colonial subject’s assertion of being a legitimate inheritor of multiple traditions: from India, from the Asian region, and from the wider world.

Jogen Chowdhury, 'Monalisa in my dream', 1977, ink and pastel, 55 cm x 55 cm. Image from glenbarra.com.

Jogen Chowdhury, ‘Monalisa in my dream’, 1977, ink and pastel, 55 cm x 55 cm. Image courtesy glenbarra.com.

To Let the World In, Part 1

Part 1 of the documentary begins with what Afterall described as the landmark 1981 exhibition “Place for People” in Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai). The project was undertaken collectively by artists Jogen Chowdhury, Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani, Sudhir Patwardhan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram and critic Geeta Kapur to explore narrative painting, but grew into an “engagement with locality, class and politics” according to Indian art blog Saffronart.

Other artists of the 1980s in the film include Nilima SheikhRanbir KalekaAnita Dube, and Atul Dodiya.

Gulammohammed Sheikh, 'CITY: Memory, Dreams, Desire, Statues and Ghosts; Return of Hiuen Tsang', 2010, painting 281×701×366cm. Image courtesy of Hanart TZ Gallery, Photography by Thomas Fuesser.

Gulammohammed Sheikh, ‘CITY: Memory, Dreams, Desire, Statues and Ghosts; Return of Hiuen Tsang’, 2010, painting, 281 × 701 × 366 cm. Image courtesy Hanart TZ Gallery.

To Let the World In, Part 2

The second part of the film features the younger generation of artists, a group that witnessed the liberalisation of their country’s economy, an event which triggered, according to Indian arts blog Kalpana, “the re-assertion of religious fundamentalism in Indian politics.”

To Let the World In also highlights the lack of progression in India’s art institutes, notes ARTINFO. Young artists who were influenced by the narrative and figuration movement in the 1980s became focused on “history, subjectivity and the politics of place.”

The inclusion of artists such as Shilpa Gupta, T.V. Santosh, Sharmila Samant, Gigi Scaria, Reena Saini Kallat, Tushar Joag, and Jitish Kallat shows that India’s young artists are concerned with history and engaged with the artists who came before them, according to the documentary.

Jitish Kallat, 'Prosody of a pulse rate', 2012, unfired stoneware, wheat grain. Image courtesy Jitish Kallat Studio. Photo credit: Viki Petherbridge.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Prosody of a pulse rate’, 2012, unfired stoneware, wheat grain. Photo by Viki Petherbridge. Image courtesy Jitish Kallat Studio.

Filmmaker Avijit Mukul Kishore

Cinematographer and film director Avijit Mukul Kishore, or Mukul, as he likes to be called, studied cinematography at the Film and Television Training Institute (FTII) in Pune in 1995, and then moved to Mumbai, where he is now based.

He has directed several feature-length films, exhibiting them in international film festivals like the Berlinale. He has worked on popular TV programmes as a cameraman and has been involved in numerous documentary films.

SK/CN/JC

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Related Topics: Indian artists, Asian artists, film, documentary

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Comments

Generation to generation, Indian contemporary art on film — 1 Comment

  1. Swaraj Das is a contemporary Indian full-time artist, drawing inspiration from the works of artists such as Rembrandt, John Singer Sargent, and Pablo Picasso. He plays with brush strokes, colours, light and shade, endeavouring to transfer positive energy and emotion onto the canvas. Through his upcoming solo exhibition of paintings – ‘Delighted Light’, Swaraj Das gives a sense of space, the soft muted color, the strong light source, all adding up to a wonderful interpretation of city life. The exhibition will be held at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery in Mumbai, from 9th to 14th June, 2014.

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