Five emerging artists experiment with mediums, inspirations and points of view, giving collectors a wide spectrum of choice.
Catch them young and watch them grow. This is what saatchiart.com, the world’s leading online art gallery, has always followed. It’s often the best way to begin a collection, since emerging artists fall into the affordable bracket. What is more, if you have invested right, then over the years their artworks will accrue value to the point of giving you double returns if you were to put the artworks up for sale. A classic example of this is what happened with the Moderns. There was a time when artists like M F Husain and SH Raza were still struggling artists and sold their work at a mere `1,000. Today, their works are worth crores. Take for instance Raza’s Saurashtra that was sold for a mere `50,000. It was bought in 2011 by Kiran Nadar at a Christie’s auction for `16 crore. More recently, Dinesh Vazirani, founder of Saffronart, brought down the hammer on an almost forgotten work by artist Akbar Padamsee, at `19 crore, setting a new record for the artist. Titled Greek Landscape, the painting was once acquired by fellow artist Krishen Khanna for `5,000. Besides the money angle, it is always a joy for collectors—now expanding to include a lot of yung blood—to watch the talent they spotted, blossom. We pick five young artists to look out for, based on their approach to work, their achievements and a prediction of a promising future.
Sheikh Hifzul, 38
Chattisgarh and Delhi
Travel is one of his inspirations and he loves riding his Bullet down the rough roads that connect Delhi and Chattisgarh. His home town, Jharkhand, is known for its rich heritage of folk art and Gond paintings, and Hifzul allows their influence to gently flow into his art, though his approach is modern-contemporary. Having completed his bachelors and masters in fine arts from IKSVV, Khairagarh (2000 and 2002), he has had many exhibitions in Delhi, Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar, to name just a few.
What makes the 38-year-old’s work interesting is that he blends the realistic with the imaginative, and brings to fruition a great sense of humour and a lust for life, enjoying colour and line in small format as well as large works. His canvases are populated with hybrid animals, mythical lions, tigers, goats and deer. His women are always larger than life—whether it is the warrior queen atop her steed or the temptress in her boudoir. He often inserts self-portraits into his depiction of mystical or historical characters. Decorative elements and motifs adorn his figuration, be it in human form or from the animal world, and some that relate to folk tales seem to belong to the world of science fiction! “Painting and creating art is the only thing that I pride myself on doing well. The rest of life has to be negotiated and it’s quite tiresome. But when I am in my studio painting, it is literally the best thing I can be doing with my life,” he says.
Pramod Jaiswal, 21
Bhopal and Delhi
Jaiswal is a young artist from Bihar, whose talent was spotted from among the many students at Delhi College of Art. Having just completed his bachelors in fine arts, he is fresh on the art scene and has already been noticed by galleries and collectors. He stands out because there is a maturity and depth in his work, with an implicit understanding of colour and form, alongside a dark and sharp wit that pervades his canvases and sketches. His energetic brush strokes essay biomorphic and hybrid forms, where man, animal and plant fuse in a riot of bright hues that capture the viewer’s eye. Going deeper into the narrative behind the works, one is surprised to find such a sensitised soul—one that sees through the superficialities of life, striking to the very core of the matter, the darker side of human personality, the city and the self.
The 21-year-old, whose works have raised interest with the young art collectors in the capital, will be showcasing his works in upcoming group exhibitions like More Than Human at Art Explore Gallery and at the Delhi College of Art. This year, he has already shown at Sahitya Kala Parishad Annual Exhibition, the Group Exhibition at Vadodara’s MSU University, and the All India Art Exhibition organised by the NDMC. “My dream is to create artworks that create a link between scientific symbols and aesthetic principles such as colour, form and line,” says the young artist, who is pursuing his masters while working out of a studio in West Delhi. He is inspired by artists like Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, famed cubist Pablo Picasso and progressive artist Sandanand Bakre.
Sudpita Das, 31 Baroda
She is an artist who has been quietly working her way up in the art scene, creating works with unusual and demanding mediums like coffee stains, pen and ink, and water colour. After participating in several group shows in Delhi and Baroda, Das has had a fairly acclaimed solo exhibition at Latitude 28, which ends this month. Her fascination with historical imagery comes through several sources. Given that her grandparents lived in Bangladesh, but her parents moved to Assam post Partition (where she was born), her work draws on her mixed identity. It looks at the notion of ‘reconstructing’ history through fragments.
Echoing the notion of fragmentation, her works are constructed from pieces and fragments of paper, like a collage of sorts, except that where a collage uses found imagery, from newspapers and magazines, the 31-year-old creates a jigsaw of her own painted imagery. “The fragments come together to make an entire image, much like what is done with history. What we accept and believe is really a re-construction of history and the truth is always an altered one. Our ignorance towards several national histories allows us to alter reality into myth,” says the artist, who completed her bachelors and masters in fine arts from Kala Bhawan, Viswa-Bharti, Santiniketan (in 2009 and 2011 respectively). Inspired by geographical maps, immigration stories and her personal history, she is currently working from Baroda and has had many solo and group shows in and outside the country.
Parul Gupta, 32
Being a minimalist in an age of imagery glut is quite the challenge. And yet artist Parul Gupta has more than risen to the challenge. When you meet her, dressed in her boho-chic outfits, you will hardly guess that she is the nerd who loves to play with numbers, straight lines and fractions. And when she gets down to it, she can create illusions just by putting together a set of straight lines. “I am interested in line as a subject, which leads me to follow architectural lines in built environments. I am also interested in how we perceive the environment we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things that we have been used to seeing a certain way,” says the 32-year-old, who began with a B Com honours before going on to do her masters in fine art at the Trent University in 2011. Most recently, at Exhibit 320, Gupta created an on-site project where she filled the upper gallery (an incubation space for experiments) with thin threads that created a visual illusion of depth and space. It was only when one walked right up to the lines that one realised it was an illusion of space. Gupta—who is inspired by minimalism and artists like Robert Irwin, Sol Lewit and Monika Gryzmala—has shown her works in Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and Germany.
Sukamshi Singh, 35
Gurgaon and the US
You may have seen her installation, Between the Pages, at the 2014 Kochi Biennale—as an animated multimedia experience that took the viewer on a voyage into the history of Kerala. In case you missed noticing her, you can catch Singh’s works at the START Art Fair in the UK, where she is showing Interstices: Traces in Light, Air and Breath at a solo booth, or at the Delhi gallery, Exhibit 320. The 35-year-old, who made her début at the India Art Fair in 2009, went on to show, mostly abroad, in New York, Italy, China and France. She also taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for five years. Now she has decided to put down roots in India and has taken up a studio in Gurgaon. Represented in Delhi by Exhibit 320, her recent solo exhibition at the gallery was well received.
Singh’s works range from paintings and drawings to animated installations. They provide an immersive experience where the viewer gets sucked into the ambience and physical environment of the work. Often there are multiple cameras and the viewer becomes part of the work that asks questions about permanence and transience, object and image, fact and illusion, and mapping and displacement. Her favourite work is Mapping the Mandala. “I did it when my grandfather died and I walked through the space that he lived in, where my relationship had changed with the objects around me. I recreated this drawing room in France, as an interactive space that shrunk when people entered it,” recalls Singh.
She hand-animates her videos, painstakingly drawing each frame. She also works in collaboration with embroidery artists who bring to life the ornate and detailed imagery of flowers, humming birds and all kinds of flora and fauna. “I create interactive multi-media installations that play with perspective to create ‘illusions’ that enable viewers to inhabit and alter the imagery with their movements in space,” says the artist, who is inspired by Vedic philosophy, as interpreted through Swami Kriyananda, which triggers her work in exploring the nature of reality and its relationship to levels of consciousness.
By Georgina Maddox