August - September 2017

Retro Realism in a Postmodern World

Currently the world of contemporary art is sadly facing two major issues. The times for the art scene look at best a bit grim in the near future. The sad implosive effects that the art world is currently facing because of the upheavals in the larger world are not being debated enough, nor can solutions be found easily.

The first and more practical crisis, as we all are only too well aware, is the financial one, wherein markets/investors and collectors have been continuously losing monetary confidence in the acquisition of art. Its repercussions run deep. The world of art has always shied from debating larger economic issues, artists and art academics specially. The onus of this to whatever extent has fallen on the shoulders of galleries, dealers and auctioneers. And they have their own trajectories to follow. One only hopes for larger involvements.

The second issue is the path that art and its manifestations are taking. With the end of the postmodern world, or that is what one presumes it to be, art is floundering in its own representations, and the more obtuse they get, the more the 'actual' buyer gapes at it with less and less understanding. No wonder then that the highest prices are still being enjoyed by the Moderns and the Masters.

This show, as the title "Retro Realism in a Postmodern World" suggests, attempts at bridging this widening gap. Each of the three artists tries in her or his way to do so. They bring forth a past and posit it in today's troubled times.

Helen Brahma is very conscious of this and carries in her work a deep interest in religious iconography and the myths/realities of the Hindu deities, and various life forms that are familiar to us. Her work, though contemporary and cutting edge, is grounded to the land that she comes from - Odisha. And in that she manifests a postmodernism that becomes relevant and identifiable.

Diptish Ghosh Dastider too presents on his canvases images which we are all familiar with but through his challenging compositions and almost graphic-like representations creates a bridge between the received imagery of India and the movements in contemporary art.

Douglas John's protagonists seem lost and searching at the same time, perhaps suggesting the artist's search for form and meaning in this dissembling world. His characters seem to appear on the stillness of his canvases from ages past, now looking lost and wondering where to next.

By Dr. Anurag Kanoria

Curated by Gourmoni Das