Beyond the Form, an exhibition organised by Bajaj Capital Art House, will show over 40 artworks by 14 contemporary artists, including veterans such as Satish Gujral and Krishen Khanna, in a variety of mediums. According to Sushma Behl, curator of the show, the focus, going beyond the look and feel of the artworks, is on “underlying concerns, issues, emotions and stories…beyond what the eye can see as a ubiquitous form.” Most of the works on display have been created for the exhibition.
Anniversary by Jagdish Chinthala
In a brief chat with Lounge, Behl—who headed the arts and culture section of the British Council in India for many years and is currently a member of the apex body of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi—talks about the show and the artists who participated in it. Edited excerpts:
Why is the show called Beyond the Form?
These days there is so much of thinking and conceptual framework that goes into art. There has been marked shift from appearance or the object to the essence of its creation. Artists now do a lot of research, thinking and planning, so it is important to see what all is involved. To me, it’s about going beyond the form.
How does this come about?
Basically, it takes two to tango. The artist and the spectator or rasik—there is a play between the two and that goes beyond the form. The idea was to create something that is reflective of this. The works have been created by artists of different backgrounds that reflect different thought processes—from big metros and small towns, educated in different places like Trichur and Baroda. Then, there are artists like Satish Gujral and Krishen Khanna who are 80 plus and some others are only 30 plus.
How do we see this in the show?
An artist like Viveek Sharma takes a lot of photographs and T.M. Azis uses media images that trigger thinking and reflection. Murali Cheeroth has a video work about pesticides used by cashew farmers in Kerala. It’s a health hazard and babies are being born with deformities. So a lot of this about the real world which the artist takes note of and it bothers or stimulates him. And this is reflected in his work.
Bullet Proof by Viveek Sharma
Was there a criterion for the selection of artists?
There was and wasn’t. I was interested in artists I was familiar with and whose works respond to the theme of the show. I also wanted a balance in the show in terms of the media employed to create the artworks—be it sculpture, paintings, video art or drawings. Also, I didn’t want the artists featured to be just restricted to the metros. I feel there is an exciting trend of many emerging artists hailing from lesser known areas. They are bringing a regional sensitivity to an international platform—after all, Subodh Gupta is from Patna.
Any dominant ideas and concepts that you see in Indian contemporary art?
I feel that socio-political themes dominate art. That’s because the situation in India is such and secondly we now have a big international audience and are taking that into account. Beauty, love and romance have been relegated into the background.
Beyond the Form will be shown from 5 August to 7 August at the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi and at Gallery Art Positive, L-26 Kalkaji, New Delhi from 8 August to 14 August. The show will then move to Jehangir Art Gallery, Kalaghoda, Mumbai from 24 August to 31 August.
Prices range from Rs125,000 to Rs250,000