Contemporary Indian art showcase Kala Sutra looks at impact of globalisation

Third edition of Kala Sutra looks at how globalisation impacts works

The popular annual showcase of contemporary Indian art, Kala Sutra, returns with its third edition at The Arts House tomorrow.

This year, it presents not just a who's who of contemporary Indian art, but broadens its focus to introduce an artist from Sri Lanka as well.

In a telephone interview from Kolkata, curator Arun Ghose tells Life! the intention is to present "artists creating works defying geographical boundaries".

As the show moves into its third edition, in addition to works by established Indian masters such as M.F. Husain and Satish Gujral, Ghose is presenting works by artists such as Sri Lanka's Senaka Senanayake and French painter Maite Delteil - wife of prominent Indian painter Sakti Burman - who have an interesting "global narrative in their art".

In all, there will be 63 paintings by 12 artists from or with close links to South Asia. This is up from the nine artists in the first two editions of Kala Sutra, arguably the biggest Indian contemporary art outing here in recent years, organised by a New Delhi-based gallery, Sanchit Art, and Singapore's Phi Events.

The works are priced between $5,700 and about $130,000, similar to that of previous editions.

Says Sanchit Art owner Sanchit Joshan: "We are bringing in a mix of works. After exhibitions in both Singapore and Dubai, we noticed there is a lot of demand for works by senior Indian artists with an international appeal such as Husain and Gujral... We also see non-Indian clients seeking artworks which are not stylistically Indian in a sense."

Paintings by Delteil fall into the latter category. She has exhibited extensively, particularly in India and is known for her vibrant and lush canvases.

Another fresh name to look out for is Senanayake. His colourful canvases have the underlying message of conservation.

The Colombo-based artist, who has visited Singapore several times, says: "Singapore's relentless efforts in preserving its natural environment have drawn me for years. In fact, one of my paintings, Macaws, was inspired by a visit to Jurong Bird Park."

Curator Ghose says, ideally, he would like Kala Sutra to have a broader South Asian focus and this year's marks that shift.

However, he points out that there are practical considerations of mounting any show, in the form of funds and the space available.

He adds: "What I have looked for in the selection of works this time is also how globalisation is impacting art and the artistic narratives that are developing in India and beyond."

In this context, one artist whose work stands out is painter Neeraj Goswami.

The artist's semi-abstract figures in paintings and murals have been praised for their vitality and use of line and colour. While rooted in the Indian tradition of spirituality, the works have a striking global resonance.

Many of the participating artists including Goswami, Delteil, Senanayake and curator Ghose will be present for the duration of the exhibition.

In that, Kala Sutra stands out from other exhibitions in presenting the artists themselves in discussions about their practice, as Indian art continues to draw global interest.

In a break from postmodern conceptual art, the exhibition offers a mix of paintings with folk and mythological influences. They are a representation of modern India, where the traditional and the contemporary co-exist, defying labels often used in the West.

As Ghose says, the challenge has been to look "beyond the expected Indian-ness and show how art in our region is evolving".

deepikas@sph.com.sg