In ART

Selections takes a look at three exciting emerging artists exhibiting in New Delhi this February

As part of a calendar of critical and cultural events across South Asia that includes the Dhaka Art Summit and the Kochi-Muziris and Colombo Biennales, the India Art Fair addresses the sub-continent’s commercial interests. It sees emerging and more established gallerists and artists alike situated under one roof. In conjunction with the artistic ambition of the region’s biennales, the art fair is a sales and social exercise that is now in its ninth year.

With exhibitors principally from India and Pakistan, each year sees a greater international presence. This year’s fair, which ran from February 2 to 5 in New Delhi, included galleries from 20 countries, as well as museum groups, such as the Tate (London), the Guggenheim (New York), the Pompidou Centre (Paris) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York), among others. These institutions signify the fair’s rise from its humble beginnings to an event of international significance.

Last year’s fair proved the most impressive to date, introducing a greater intellectual element to the fair with a complex network of platforms that included Galleries, featuring South Asian and worldwide galleries; Focus, concentrating on individual artists curated by galleries and institutions; Institutional, showcasing Indian museums and foundations; Platform, introducing young and more emerging artists; and Projects with works of a more site-specific nature.

While the galleries and institutions are more easily decided, each year’s crop of young artists is surprising and worthy of note, as they are likely to become the leading lights of the contemporary art scene in a matter of a few years. Among the most noteworthy this year, chiefly for their interest in creating a scientific aesthetic, were Ayesha Sultana of Kolkata’s Experimenter, UBIK, represented by Madrid’s Sabrina Amrani, and Mariam Suhail with Bangalore’s GallerySke.

The most minimalist of the three, Sultana has an exhibition, entitled Making Visible, running at Experimenter until February 27, with works that encompass an optical and analytical set of visual experiments that take one into the realm of problem-solving. Sultana delivers beautifully executed drawings, of which Hold III (graphite on paper mounted on dibond) and Untitled (gouache, ink and graphite on paper) were included in the fair. Described as “capturing both stillness and anticipation,” Sultana’s works appear as almost invisible visions that the artist couples with assemblages that are entirely abstract.

New Delhi-based artist UBIK is a young man who creates language-based objects under a pseudonym. With works in some of the most prestigious international collections, UBIK demonstrates a maturing grasp of the relationship of language to the visual image, creating intentionally simple art saturated with meaning. His work for the art fair, Assembly Line was, as he explains, a “negotiation between an artwork, its display, and its intended space, as an installation of a rotating series of arrangements that consists of wood, sandpaper and digital prints.”

Finally, Pakistan-born and Bangalore-based artist Suhail showed a selection of her almost absurd sketches and sculptures derived from a subculture of antidotal invention. Suhail creates drawings and diagrams from the accident and order of everyday things – the result is evacuation-style instructions that take you no further than the point at which you started.


A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The One to Watch #40, page 40-41

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