Food for Thought from Eastern Eyes; CULTURE Terry Grimley Reviews Two Major Exhibitions of Indian Art That Have Opened in the Region
Byline: Terry Grimley
While nowhere is immune from the worldwide recession, it seems that the Indian art market still remains buoyant.
A year ago, private collector Frank Cohen presented A Passage to India, a selection of recent Indian art from his collection at his gallery, Initial Access, near Wolverhampton. Now, he has returned to the subject with a second exhibition, A Passage to India, Part Two.
Meanwhile, the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry is hosting Through Other Eyes, a cross-section of art from South Asia taken from a different perspective. The Herbert, revitalised by its refurbished and beautifully extended building, is also beginning to collect in this area, having acquired a number of works from this exhibition for its collection.
At Initial Access, you can see artists who are already well established or have recently emerged within it. The superstar is Subhon Gupta, a painter, sculptor, installation and video-maker born in 1964 who has been called 'the Damien first of New Delhi'.
Gupta's work has been exhibited from New York to the Venice Biennale and sells for six-figure sums. Like first, one of his well-known works is a skull, not encrusted with diamonds but made from the stainless steel cooking utensils which are a subject for many of his paintings and feature in his installations.
One of his two works in this show is Curry, a display of utensils on a kitchen rack which appears at first sight to be monstrously over-sized but is, perhaps, a standard fitting from a restaurant.
Just as Indian musicians often seem to have a natural affinity for jazz, many Indian painters seem to be attuned to Pop Art.
It's perhaps not surprising when you think of the tradition of giant handpainted Bollywood posters or the kitsch in Indian religious imagery.
The large paintings of T V Santosh, Murali Cheeroth and Jitish Kallat a demonstrate this tendency, with Santosh's Enemies' Enemy II, a blown-up photograph in polarised 1960s-style colour of (I assumed) a terrorist suspect being arrested, while Cheeroth's series of Scene paintings juxtapose random imagery (a construction worker, a man carrying a clutch of automatic rifles) set against blurry, gaudy colour. …