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Editor's note: Looking beyond the frame

India’s young artists are working across formats to show us the interior lives of others and make us question the way we accept the world

Northeast Lightbox’s work for the ‘Question Project’, an extension of a project initiated by the Chilean collective MilM2

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“Pretty” is a word that people often associate with art, judging canvases that are not cheerful or appealing in a traditional sense, but as British writer Olivia Laing says, art doesn’t necessarily have “a duty to be beautiful or uplifting”. What matters is “the ways in which it is concerned with resistance and repair”, and its power to make us question.

Also read: Meet Indian art's newest voices

India’s young and contemporary artists are doing just this—working across mediums and formats to show us the interior lives of others, tell us about hidden relationships and narratives, and make us question the way we accept the world. Prompted by their own experience or what they see around them, these artists are trying to raise awareness and shape narratives. 

The Lounge art special this week tracks the trends and ideas that have emerged in the art world over the past two years. Our special coincides with the India Art Fair in Delhi, which is making a comeback this weekend after a year’s break due to the pandemic. Our stories, however, go beyond just what’s on show at the pavilions to tell you about the new, young voices across the country whose work you should not miss.

We visit collectives in the North-East focusing on the art of the community, meet curators in cities working with digital art and NFTs, listen to the stories that traditional artists are telling in contemporary ways, talk to those creating art from textiles, understand their multidisciplinary approach. All these artists show us that art is one of the ways in which we can step beyond ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. Even humanoid artists, which employ Artificial Intelligence (and we do have a story on them) to create art, start conversations—about the meaning of art, who a creator is, and the relationship between humans and machines. There is a beauty to the way all of it forces us to think about what lies beyond the frame.

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