Painting Incredible India: A Conversation With 3 Indian Contemporary Artists

India’s artists are proving to be immensely influential in pushing the boundaries of art in today’s world. On the occasion of Independence Day, Artflute spoke to 3 artists from India, who have developed their own distinctive idiom of art, to get a sense of the meaning that India gives their art and to learn about their vision for contemporary art in India.

Meenakshi Jha Banerjee

“Creativity is agility with empathy and is the prototype of a thought and the visualisation of the unforeseen.”

Basanti - VIII by Meenakshi Banerjee
Basanti – VIII by Meenakshi Banerjee

 

What does being creative mean to you?

Creativity to me has always been being consistent with my signature style, no matter which medium or subject I am working on. Being creative is a controlled experiment that involves calculated risk. Creativity is agility with empathy and is the prototype of a thought and the visualisation of the unforeseen.

Your art has an unmistakable stamp of India. Why is the culture of India an important element in your art?

I was born and brought up in India, nurtured and trained in India and its culture is what I have imbibed. It is impossible for my innate ‘Indian-ness’ to be missing from my art since I am an Indian by default. It is an unmistakable and undesigned presence in my art.

What is your vision for contemporary Indian art?
The word ‘contemporary’ referred to what was contemporary one thousand years ago and will continue to indicate what is contemporary two thousand years from now. When it comes to contemporary art in India, I believe that the movement will continue forever. Whether it is the  frescos of Ajanta or the massive steel bodhi tree outside NGMA, the flavour of ‘Indian-ness’ remains.

Mohammed Osman

“With incredible freedom of expression, I believe that, there sometimes is undue importance given to the idea rather than the work that comes out of it.”

Gangireddu - XII by Mohammed Osman
Gangireddu – XII by Mohammed Osman

 

What does being creative mean to you?
Being creative to me is about creating new and experimental expressions of the subject that is occupying my attention. In a very simple way, creativity is through colour and composition for me.

Your art has an unmistakable stamp of India. Why is the culture of India an important element in your art?
When it comes to art, subjects are not dug up from anywhere. Our surroundings will surely determine the art that we make to quite an extent. Since I have a very deep interest in the culture of our country, it is always a part of my paintings. The place where I was born and brought up and the manner in which life came to me is also the reason why India is such an important element.

What is your vision for contemporary Indian art?
Contemporary Indian art is evolving and blooming— artists are working without any restrictions whether with the medium or with ideology. However, with this incredible freedom of expression, I believe that there sometimes is undue importance given to the idea rather than the work that comes out of it.

Jiaur Rahman

“The language of our art cannot ignore our reality and our environment.”

Woman of the Tribe by Jiaur Rahman
Woman of the Tribe by Jiaur Rahman

What does being creative mean to you?

I express everything that I feel through my art. From nostalgia to joy and melancholy— everything finds a place on my canvas. From the moment a thought arises, creativity has already begun to flow for me. My life is all about this.

Your art has an unmistakable stamp of India. Why is the culture of India an important element in your art?

India is  the kind of country that is so rich when it comes to culture that it cannot be ignored. Every region has its own unique culture and Bengal being the place from where I am, it understandably has a very big influence on my artistic expression. My everyday reality will undoubtedly have a place in my art.

What is your vision for contemporary Indian art? What would you say it needs most urgently?

Interpretations of traditions and culture is making a big statement in art in India right now. That is because the language of our art cannot ignore our reality and our environment.

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