It will be fitting to begin with an artwork that signifies Mumbai, and is created by an artist who was born in this city. In parks, promenades and pavements across the megapolis, one finds concrete benches to sit and relax. Most of them are donations in memory of a loved one and they bear their name. Inspired by this street insignia, Mumbaikar Atul Dodiya made a concrete bench dedicated to the late artist, Bhupen Khakhar. One half of the bench is cement grey, the other is lemon yellow, and a vintage book hangs from a corner held by an earphone wire. The piece was created in response to the prompt of imagining ‘a space that brings back memories of Bombay’s fabled ‘reading rooms’’ such as the historic Asiatic library and the newly restored David Sassoon Library & Reading Room. Visitors are welcome to sit and take photos.
At the Vadehra Art Gallery, Booth A01, Contemporary art area.
The sky is a flaming orange just as the ground, and industrial complexes populate the space between them. They appear in the background, beyond intricate lattice patterns painted in black. The oil on canvas has a lattice design that replicates the jali work at the Babri masjid. The painting can be interpreted as a representation of erasure of a vibrant culture (or past) perhaps through violence; only to be replaced by concrete factories.
Experimenter Art Gallery, Booth 5, Contemporary art area.
Ceramic structures, partly inspired by SpongeBob SquarePants, form religious effigies in Sri Lankan artist Nithiyendran’s work. The idea is to rethink religious idols with an inclusive polymorphic approach and create new meanings. The colour palette with carmine, yellow, blue and green are offset with gold accents. It’s hard to not look twice.
Jhaveri Contemporary, Booth 9, Contemporary art area.
‘Amphibious Apartments’ by Prateek Arora:
What if cities run out of land and apartments are made on boats and ships? This is the concept of the AI generated work by Delhi artist Prateek Arora. He has multiple photographs of residential buildings foregrounded by floating boats stacked with apartments exuding warmth. It’s difficult to view this work without thinking of a dystopian future.
Photoink, Booth 15 and 16, Contemporary art area.
The theme of migration runs deep in this installation by Vadodara-based artist Sudipta Das. Her ancestors left behind their home in Bangladesh and settled in Silchar, Assam. She draws from her family's stories and uses delicate paper to make mini dolls to represent migrants walking with their belongings.
Latitude 28, Booth 12, Contemporary art area.
On display, are four photographs of Mumbai artist Shakuntala Kulkarni wearing a life-sized cane armour and posing in different parts of the city that are threatened—outside a heritage building in dire need of repair, by the sea and a market area with the now defunct Premier Padmini black and yellow taxi. The armour signifies the idea of the body being protected and trapped. The locations are meant to draw viewers’ attention to the 'systematic erasing of history and culture in Mumbai today.’
Chemould Prescott Road, Booth 14, Contemporary art area
This painting has been displayed in India for the first time. It belongs to a series of works from the series Head of Man, which was painted after a visit to Rome in 1960, and showcased in London in 1961.
DAG World, Booth 45, Modern art area
The Kashmiri artist worked on a massive carved hardwood painted in grey with design motifs borrowed from his place of birth. There are detailed drawings of Kashmiri carpets, goat herders, elegant paisleys, flowers, snatches of poetry, shikara, spotted deers and so much more.
Aicon, Booth 40, Modern art area
It’s a humongous tapestry by Pakistani artist Khadim Ali. It captures scenes from the pandemic with masks, oxygen cylinders and is dotted with the coronavirus. At the centre is a multi-headed man in a suit with birthday hats and clown’s makeup. It depicts a crisis woven in satire.
Aicon, Booth 40, Modern art area
At first look, the blue grey dollar seems static, but swipe your phone over this painting and it pops, with a catchy ping sound that mimics a payment transfer on digital wallet apps. It is by German multimedia artist Bond Truluv who spent several years in India.
Gallery XXL, Booth 32, Contemporary Art Area