Ashish Kr Maurya,
Digvijay Sinh Jadeja,
Helna Merrin Joseph,
Bishwas, Digital Art
Saran Raj V,
Priya Thuvassery and Anupama Mandloi,
Miriam Koshy, Vishal Rawley and Tallulah D’ Silva,
David Verghese and Koumudi Malladi,
Meet Varvada and Vasudev M Nair,
Director, InKo Center
Curator & Founder, Art Insights
To know Sumit Goswami, one must know the rich legacy of Sanjhi Art.
An indigenous art form from the Braja region of Northwest U.P., the place that is hailed as Lord Krishna’s home, Sanjhi Art is rooted in folk tradition. What started in the 15th century in the Vaishnava Temples turned into a highly refined art form, made more auspicious by those who took it up: the Brahmin Priests.
Sumit Goswami, the leading Sanjhi artist of this generation, hopes to keep the auspicious art form keep it alive and thriving for the generations to come.
Aswathy is a Thullal performer and teacher from Thrissur, Kerala. Thullal performances are seen during festivals and cultural programs across Kerala. These performances are based on mythological stories that are recited through verses.
Thullal was introduced in the 18th century by legendary poet Kunchan Nambiar. This magnificent dance form is fast losing its relevance. However, Aswathy successfully documents the work of Thullal writers and restore its glory in these fast-changing times.
Kalamandalam Krishnendu has been a Kutiyattam, Nangiarkuthu performer for two decades. Nangiarkuttu (also nangiar koothu) is a one-woman type of ritual theatre, originally performed in the temple theatres in Kerala. Kalamandalam and her husband, a freelance Mizhavu artist, live in Kerala and showcase their performances to express the art form.
One of Kalamandalam’s exceptional proposal was centred on a famous play titled Kiratarjuneeyam by the renowned poet Kodungallur Kunjukkuttan Thampuran. She saw the many ways in which the lead character Tvarita Devi could be brought to life on stage. She choreographed Tvarita Devi with the help of her Guru the great maestro of Kutiyattam Kalamandalam Rama Chakyar.
Karmaben Meru Garodia lives in Hodko village of Banni region famous for traditional embroidery work, mud and leather work. The Banni Embroidery is one of the traditional embroidery styles from the region of Kachchh (Gujarat), popular all over the world for their intricacy and richness of the design. Her embroidery skills helps her create a wide range of products which gets sold out in no time.
Karmaben is well-versed in various Banni traditional embroidery styles namely Pakko, Kharek, Nera, Chattar and Kambhiro and was awarded a National Merit Certificate (NMC) from office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India in 2008.
Anitha, a community-engaged art practitioner and curator from Bangalore, has been interacting with the Siddhi community, India’s Lost African Tribe, for many years. The community’s unique characteristics and ancestry is reflected in their art, crafts, quilting, patchwork and other cultural traditions.
The pandemic posed a massive setback to the endangered art of making Kawandi. To keep it from being endangered, Anitha worked on organizing a workshop for Sidhi women where they were provided with the quilting tools and material, teaching the artisans how to refine their skills and educating them about new designs and narratives so that they could continue to rely on their art and earn their livelihood.
Ashish Kumar Maurya, an emerging artist from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, has always been fascinated with the urban and the rural alike. He studies the labor class's hardships, their physical and mental toil and constant struggle for basic amenities like water. He goes beyond just being a silent observer and starts dialogues with them.
For his project, Ashish chose urban (New Delhi Slum Area) as well as rural (Mirzapur) spaces. He studied the two spaces and came up with photographs, painting installations to capture the beauty of lives that keep going on bare minimum. He created short videos, photographs, canvas, paper as well as some site-specific art, video art, assemblage, digital collage and performance art to depict his understandings.
Arjun Das left Giridh, Jharkhand and arrived in Kolkata at the age of 11. After arriving, Arjun Das worked in a dhabha where he found his first canvas: the kitchen walls. There was no stopping for Arjun after that. Years later, Arjun wants to create awareness about migration of children from backward regions of India. His passion helped him create art dedicated to a cause that is so close to his heart.
Born in Bhavnagar, Digvijay moved to Baroda and studied at the prestigious MSU Baroda. During one of the art classes, he had his first interaction with the bandwallahs and the beginning of his fascination with the hardworking tribe. He deepened his dialogue with the bandwallahs and found out how they are in demand during the wedding and festive season but the rest of the year, they are forgotten, left to their own devices.
In the bandwallahs, Digvijay sees not just a group of people playing instruments together, they represent a long lost emotion, and the feeling of nostalgia. That’s why he has been working to celebrate the unique lives of Bandwallahs and myriad aspects of it for the last two years. His art project had a series of six large prints on canvas using woodcut technique centred on Bandwallahs.
Hardik is a young ceramic sculptor trained at the prestigious Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda. He studied painting and earned a master’s degree in Mural from MS University, Vadodara.
Hardik is always infusing spontaneity in his work and loves to explore the strengths of the mediums that he has mastered to come up with fresh narratives. Since he has always been fascinated by the intricate architecture of Indian temples, his art reflects his interpretations of ancient architecture, forms and narrations. His work has many layers and has technical, philosophical and spiritual concepts all woven together in positive and negative spaces.
Born in Murshidabad, West Bengal, Asif Imran moved to Kolkata for his higher studies. His close observation of various socio-economical issues faced by the different classes of the society are at the centre of his art.
Asif Imran’s work is a vivid narrative of his visual experiences. He, in his latest project, puts people from different walks of life with urban spaces and architectural elements to create a unique world. Public places, urban construction sites, roadside hoarding, abandoned walls, children park, colonial pattern architecture, television news, old houses balcony, Asif’s work reflected the micro cosmoses that exist around us as one.
Helna Merrin Joseph is a young artist from Kerala. She takes pride in her art which is not just a passion but a lifestyle for her. Her work is inspired by characters from the world around her and captures the small moments that go unnoticed by people.
She chose sculpting to express her innermost feelings and observations of women. The abrupt shift in her life due to the pandemic made her feel a deep connection with migrants and their urge to survive that keeps them going despite all odds and deprivation. She expanded the scale of her project by buying raw materials and moving from wooden relief culture to broader plywood cutouts thus marking the beginning of her professional life.
Kuldeep Karegaonkar was born in a farmer’s family in Parbhani, Maharashtra. He grew up observing the changing seasons and the emotions that change with them. He got a master’s degree from MMK College, Gulbarga and moved to Mumbai in pursuit of a distinct artistic voice.
In Mumbai, Kuldeep experimented with various artistic styles and art forms while staying connected to his roots. The inaudible rhythm of the earth, the happy dance of trees, the sprouting of seeds, his art is a collage of myriad visions from his life and a reflection of the damage that urbanization has caused to the soil. His latest art had elements of nature at the centre of his narration, so the viewers’ attention is on the widespread destruction that rapid urbanization has caused.
For over two decades, Hemavathy has been involved in painting and printmaking. In 2009, she decided to step out of her comfort zone and engage with the people who had been her subjects for years and create masterpieces that would reach the masses rather than hang in a gallery for select audience.
Hemavathy has been carrying out community art projects for past 13 years and sharing them with the world in the form of blogs, books, performance, and short video films. Every now and then she would spot members from the transgender community asking for money at traffic lights. The need to celebrate their presence through her art, to include them in our day-to-day lives struck her.
Pratik Raut is an artist from Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. He was drawn towards Kangra and its wandering shepherds. The way the community dresses, their homes, their language, everything drew Pratik in.
However, fascinated Pratik noticed how the community and Kangra was changing with time. Kangra is known all over the world for its miniatures, an art that is rapidly losing its essence and is on the verge of extinction for there aren’t people around to take the legacy forward. Pratik’s project was focused on documenting the change that is underway in the Kangra community, their habitat and their art. He researched and documented the art and identity of the shepherd community. His project puts into focus the adverse effect of tourism on the people, climate and art of Kangra.
Akansha Sharma is an artist, medical depression survivor and now, a certified Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) practitioner. She strongly feels that art, healing and awareness go hand in hand. She works with Kishangarh Basti in New Delhi and holds sessions with women to help them deal with stress, and ways they can use to control stress whenever a situation or person triggers it. Akansha also holds organize lifechanging art sessions with women and children of Kishangarh Basti. A wall mural with community participation has also been created, eternalizing the beauty of this thoughtful and empowering project.
Manoj Kumar is an independent artist born in Araria, Bihar. He later migrated to Santiniketan, West Bengal. He turned his observations of migrant life into art. His work is not just a depiction of his observations but also a reflection of his personal journey.
Manoj works with most of whom have migrated in search of livelihood. Interestingly, Manoj’s art isn’t about capturing the poverty or the pain manual labour; it celebrates the moments of joy, the sheer joy of manual labor! Manoj experimented with alternative photographic methods from the 19th century in search of a signature style. His work today is the result of modern digital photography, and the old chemical process of printing, a juxtaposition of different eras.
His latest project went from post to pillar capturing vegetable sellers, the milkman, fruitsellers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, gas vendors, gardeners, rickshaw-pullers, thela walas and so on. He was able to immortalize the characters of his choice using the Ambrotype process, one of the oldest photographic processes, involving direct camera positives made on glass.
Raja is a performance artist and choreographer from Noida, Uttar Pradesh. He manages a performance company by the name of Space Performing Arts engaged in the research of traditional knowledge in theatre, dance, music, movement to create a contemporary performance language. He is trained in several dance forms like Chaau, Kathakali, Contemporary, Arial Acrobatics and Ashtang Yoga and has performed all over the world in the past eight years. His performances are aimed at promoting dance and movement arts.
Saurabh Pal is an art history researcher from Gwalior. He is a doctorate scholar and has done in-depth research in the art forms under the reign of Kalachuris and Dahalamandala.
Kalachuri art is mainly an exquisite sculptural art form that has been around for centuries and is found in Satna, Rewa, Jabalpur, Siddhi, Shadol, Damoh and Saugor in Madhya Pradesh.
Over the years, this spectacular art lost its charm. Kalachuri specimen is tucked away in places that are not on the tourist map and are hard to reach. Moreover, with few art scholars showing interest in reviving the art, Kalachuri art is on the brink of extinction. Thus, Saurabh Pal has been trying to revive this art form through a publication dedicated to Kalachuri art.
Chananji Khan,aged 69, has an instrument of his choice, the surmandal, a 100-year-old 36-strings lap harp. It has been a part his family and legacy. Over the years, however, the number of Surmandal listeners dwindled. Today, Chananji Khan is the only Surmandal-playing Manganiyar in the community.
Chananji is building a small community hall with instruments dedicated to Surmandal. He is relieved that the sound of Surmandal will continue to echo for years to come.
Anupama Alias is a Kerala-based artist whose project ‘Cape of Good Hope’ is dedicated to women whose contributions, whether in the field of academics or art, have been forgotten by the world. The project celebrates the untold stories of unknown women, their toil, struggles and in some cases, the glory that kissed their feet after they proved their worth in a man’s world. It also involves neighbourhood groups such as Kudumbasree and Ayalkoottam. Kudumbasree is essentially a community network that supports women empowerment. Anupama presented her work in cotton and rice paper encouraging women to continue standing on their feet and take control of their lives.
Saran Raj V was born and raised in a small village called Karadippatti in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. For past seven years, he has been in Chennai and travelling around with his art works. He specializes in sculpting and his art transcends mediums and is hugely inspired by the traditional artforms of Tamil Nadu and the rituals of its people. Saran Raj’s work focuses on caste-based oppression, untouchability and other vices that are prevalent in society since time immemorial.
Saran created a photographic archive of the lives of various communities living today in Keezhadi, a town near Madurai, where excavations have been carried out for the past seven years. Such discoveries impact the discourse around Tamil Nadu’s politics, cultural movements, art, literature, films, business, social media platforms/networks, and the everyday lives of people.
Priya Thuvassery and Anupama Mandloi are independent documentary makers from Delhi and Mumbai respectively. Their project is centred ‘The Coral Woman’, a documentary that highlights coral bleaching and the need for immediate steps that need to be taken to avert more natural disasters. Inspired by the documentary, five artists from five different art disciplines came together to create a two-piece installation on environmental degradation. This was done under the expert guidance of marine researchers and coral reef conservationists. The installations celebrated the beauty, the fragility and the significance of corals.
Miriam Koshy, Vishal Rawley and Tallulah are artists from Goa. They believe that as unparalleled as scientific contributions are, science alone cannot sway hearts and minds. They believe that humans are touched by stories, poetry, art and music and that’s why they retell their personal experiences of a rapidly changing climate that needs our immediate attention.
Their project ‘Amche Mangrove’, the three artists want to address environmental generational amnesia by involving younger generations. They want to create a space for conversations around the Mangrove ecosystem and engage those whose livelihood depends upon the health of the ecosystem.
David Verghese is an architect and urban planner from the city of Bengaluru. Koumudi Malladi is a freelance architectural historian working with heritage sites in India. David and Malladi carried out several research expeditions across India including the quest to understand heritage sites which aimed at creating awareness about the landscapes and its histories and what they mean to us today. They also aimed at making this information accessible to children from underprivileged section of the society in the form of informative modules. They were educated about various historical sites using various forms of art and culture as tools.
Meet Varvada and Vasudev are young artists pursuing their master’s in fine arts in Noida. Their collaborative endeavour is to delve deep into the rich legacy of Bulandshahr in the backdrop of the 1857 mutiny.
The two artists engaged with the residents of the Bulandshahr and captured these interactions through videography and photography. The videos and photos were later turned into a comic book, which was a compilation of incidents as they happened. A film documenting the artists’ interactions and their findings was also created. The aim of the project was to bring into focus the city’s lost glory, its rich culture and historical significance.