This year, the monsoon has not made much of a splash in New Delhi. But just because the rain has stayed away, Himanshu Verma, a curator with the artists collective, Red Earth India, does not want New Delhi to forget the “most sensual” of all seasons.
Three festivals, all curated by Verma, will celebrate the monsoon season through photography, painting and fashion respectively.
Make a splash: ‘Water Disco’ in Dehradun
“Traditionally, art has revolved around seasons and festivals but, unfortunately, the contemporary art scene has forgotten those traditions,” says Verma. “This is a small effort to bring contemporary art closer to the older tradition.”
He sees the event as a way for New Delhi to come together and admire the joy and relief the monsoon brings.
The three exhibits are being held on Kasturba Gandhi Marg: the photography exhibit, Monsoon Light, at the Max Mueller Bhavan; the fashion exhibit, Monsoon Fashion, at the British Council; and the painting exhibit, The Monsoon Chapter 2, at the Travancore Palace. “You can hop, skip and jump from one venue to the next,” says Verma.
Verma took special care to explore the monsoon from six thematic points: landscapes and nature, flora and fauna, the human body in the monsoon, people’s celebration and mythology of the monsoon and how the city handles the rains.
For example, German photographer Christina Zuck explores the theme of people and their celebration of the rain through her Water Disco series. The playful, vibrant shots show boys dancing under showers at a park in Dehradun.
New Delhi–based Bandeep Singh’s photography explores more impressionistic scenes such as his haunting landscapes of Darjeeling. His images of windswept trees’ reflections create a brushstroke–like effect across the water.
Singh, the photo editor of India Today, says his day job “deals constantly with the super reality of documentary photography, so my fine artwork is my way of continuing to love photography, to see a different side of reality, explore the subconscious side of it”.
The photography exhibit loosely follows the six themes, but since only six photographers are contributing, the work is not grouped according to the themes. However, the painting exhibit, with around 38 contributing artists, has the works organized into the six themes.
Satish Gupta, for example, displays his work in the mythology section. Govardhan is part of a larger series Gupta had been working on about Krishna as a separate project. When asked to participate in the festival, Gupta finished the image of Krishna’s head among the monsoon clouds, representing the story of Krishna covering the villagers with a mountain to save them from pouring rain.
Along with paintings like Gupta’s, the exhibit will also feature two-dimensional work in different mediums, such as work by a kite–maker and an animation director.
The fashion exhibit will be a slight departure from the other two exhibits, as it will simply explore the art of design inspired by the monsoon season. Contemporary couture outfits that explore the sensuality of the season will be shown alongside traditional outfits that have long been associated with the monsoon. Verma also says the exhibit, in a small part, will be an opportunity to explore the issues of climate change. “There is no monsoon this year, there is no rain. We really need to think about that,” he says.
Monsoon Fashion will be showing at the British Council until 22 August. Monsoon Light will be showing at the Max Mueller Bhavan until 29 August. The Monsoon Chapter 2 will be showing at the Travancore Palace until 22 August.