Speak to someone that has travelled to the Subcontinent and they will explain that India is as complex as it is fascinating: a country full of life, spirituality and contradictions. This is the main inspiration behind ‘Yeh Hai India Darling!’, an exhibition that both celebrates and questions the country in all its glory. Featuring the work of nine Indian artists, the show explores themes such as urbanisation and industrialisation, and is a colourful insight into modern India from the people’s perspective. We chat to three of the artists about their work.
I focus on subjects that affect society through corruption, violence in sports, industrialisation or injustice.
From where did you draw inspiration for this piece? India is a very ‘happening’ country. I like working on issues that affect society, good or bad. Indians have a wide range of culture, religion, language, food, economy and geography.
Can you explain a bit about the piece? My paintings of children with statues express the loss of heroes and role models in modern society. As the landscape becomes more industrial and modern, the younger generation loses its spiritual and moral bearings.
What are your concerns about modern India? India is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, so in this process of industrialisation there are a lot of things happening, good and bad. But there are always hope and possibilities.
What makes you proud to be Indian? It’s difficult to say, there are so many things to be proud of. ‘Yeh Hai India Darling!’ continues at XVA Gallery until October 30.
Age 31, from West Bengal
What are the common themes in your work? My themes are sensitivity and sensuality.
From where did you draw inspiration for this piece? My life… happiness and sadness. Every moment counts.
Can you explain a bit about the piece? My art is very intuitive, spontaneous and intricate. It is very close to the feminine persona, which appears fragile from the outside, but from the inside is solid and firm.
What are your concerns about modern India? India is doing well on the world stage, in every aspect as well as in art, though we can’t deny we have the problems of a modern society: ecological issues, politics, overpopulation, corruption… Against all odds, this country is going strong.
What makes you proud to be Indian? India is one of the ancient civilisations, and it has offered the world a lot of things. Despite the cultural diversity, multilayered society, different religions and languages, people share a common bond with each other, which is very rare. I am proud to be Indian.
Pradeep L Mishra
Age 34, from Mumbai
What is the common theme in your work? Life.
From where did you draw inspiration for this piece? The will of ‘living beings’ to share life with fellow beings. We are all on Earth together for a moment of time.
Can you explain a bit about the piece? My artworks share the presence of ‘beings’ in our day-to-day life. We all have this in common, human and animal. We are alive, which is a great gift.
What are your concerns about modern India? I believe everyone should have the right to live in a safe and healthy environment. I was shocked by the floods in Mumbai a few years ago, when the animals were left in their pens and died. The animals represented the livelihood of the farmers, yet they did not save them. This was such an injustice.
What makes you proud to be Indian? Self-belief. I believe in myself and therefore in all Indians.
Exhibition: ‘Yeh Hai India Darling!’, until October 30 at XVA Gallery, DIFC (04 358 5117). A solo exhibition from one of the artists, Maruti Shelke, will also be held at XVA Bastakiya (04 353 5383).
Artists: Pradeep L Mishra, Bibhu Patnaik, Riya Chatterjee, Mahesh Baliga, Debarchan Rout, Sudip Dutta, Maruti Shelke, Ajay Sharma, Balaji Ponna.