Gallerists and art experts are betting big on a select number of young artists with a fresh and distinctive voice. While this is in no way an exhaustive list, the artists, chosen by some leading organisations and galleries, are a pointer towards the continuing significance of contemporary art in India. With a majority of the artists practising for roughly five years, their visual storytelling is compelling in that it creates a direct dialogue with the viewer.
Zahra Yazdani, 38, who studied fine arts at Soore Art University in Tehran, Iran, uses photography, videos, and book-making as mediums to make a profound connection between the body and the surrounding environment. She photographs individuals in both private and public spaces and constructs visual narratives around the human body and its gestures. According to Bhavna Kakar, founder and director, Latitude 28, Delhi, Yazdani’s art is special because her visual storytelling is so fresh and distinctive. Through her art practice—mostly inspired by the concept of collage—Yazdani responds to situations of crises and struggles, creating work that juxtaposes painting and photography in a way that makes her art surreal. For the India Art Fair, Yazdani’s exhibition, Scripted Selves: Sutures Of Signs And Symbols, probes the human body through the effect of distortion and layers.
“We recognised Mayur and Tushar as Ojas Art Award protégés at the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2019,” says Anubhav Nath, director of Delhi-based Ojas Art, that uses the approach of fine arts to help in the rehabilitation of underprivileged sections of society. Nath feels that the Vayeda brothers’ work is important for the contemporary expression that they unravel through the indigenous, folk medium of Warli painting, the community to which they belong. The stories that they tell through their artistic practice are of folklore and mythology associated with Warli art but communicate the concerns of sustainability, climate change, and water scarcity, among other issues. The duo, who are in their 30s, designed the façade of the India Art Fair last year, further revealing how the artists use the basic grammar of their inherited style of painting while adapting it to the unknown. As part of residencies in Japan, France, and Switzerland, they are taking the indigenous art form of Maharashtra to the world.
Highlighting the issues within the domestic and monotonous lives of middle-class women, particularly from lower-income groups living in small towns, Jayeeta Chatterjee’s process is unique in that she combines printmaking, fabric, and stitching. Chatterjee, 29, completed her BFA in printmaking from Santiniketan, West Bengal. Last year, she completed a residency with Chemould CoLab, the second gallery by Chemould focusing on contemporary art. Shireen Gandhy, director, Chemould Prescott Road, says the artist’s exceptional skill lies in her “facility of the deftness of drawing, the main ingredient in her work, which, when combined with woodcut process and applied on material allows for masterful storytelling”.
Junaki Paul, 27, one of the Space118’s Grant Winners of 2023-24, will be showing her recent works at the India Art Fair. Founded in 2009, Space 118 provides studios and residencies to emerging art practitioners. Paul’s raw and emotive exploration through drawing, painting, soft sculpture, and performance photography, is an artistic journey into self-exploration. The artist from Tripura sheds light on the societal limitations faced by women there and engages with the viewer to have conversations about identity, gender, and the female experience. Kolkata-based Paul utilises everyday objects such as fabric, mattresses, mirrors, in her work.
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Telangana-based Madhukar Mucharla practice positions leatherwork in an interesting dialogue with tradition and craft while exploring the issues of discrimination. In 2022, he was one of the 10 artists to receive the Emerging Artist Award from Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art, a not-for-profit foundation that encourages, promotes and supports innovative work in the field of contemporary visual arts. Having studied fine arts at Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad, Mucharla belongs to the Madiga community, traditionally leather workers or tanners. Through his art, he explores the material of leather in a more contemporary manner while also creating a dialogue about communities that are discriminated against over the generations.
Describing herself as a passionate storyteller, Supriya Dongre is a researcher and a visual artist. “My practice,” says Dongre, “lies at the intersection of research and trans-disciplinary design.” She desires to create compelling human experiences and bring behavioural change by interrogating complex social problems. The recipient of Serendipity Arts Residency in 2022, Dongre’s work, according to the spokesperson of the Serendipity Arts Foundation, is interesting for it offers a deep understanding into the emotional turmoil of the human mind. Her work developed at the residency, Reserved, was an enquiry into the identity and Dalit representation. Mostly, Dongre’s art is a cathartic investigation into human conditions, looking closely at trauma, grief, and reconciliation. In her late 20s, the chemical engineer-turned-artist puts herself at the centre of her investigations into art, diving deeper into her Dalit identity and gazing at discrimination from that lens.
Both Puneet and Meghna Shah, founders of Akara Contemporary, Mumbai, are betting big on Bhagyashree Suthar, 28. According to them, the meticulous detailing and how deeply the artist submerges herself into the world that she attempts to depict is what makes Suthar’s art so distinctive. Vadodara-based Suthar’s work has been heavily influenced by architecture and geometric patterns in nature. Through beeswax sculptures, drawings, and wax paintings, many of them done on Rajasthani wasli paper and kite paper, Suthar’s art delves into architectural forms that tell stories of a dystopian world. The artist holds a master’s degree in fine arts from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodra.