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A note on the issue: A season for art and artistry

The studio is no longer a space filled with paint-spattered canvases, but more like a laboratory

A part of ‘Silken Passage’, a 28x8ft multi-layered brass mural by Vikram Goyal Studio. Courtesy Vikram Goyal Studio
A part of ‘Silken Passage’, a 28x8ft multi-layered brass mural by Vikram Goyal Studio. Courtesy Vikram Goyal Studio

Art always stirs curiosity—whether we are touched or baffled by an artist’s work, we are inquisitive about what prompted them to create it. Sometimes it’s a piece of text or a discarded item, at other times the inspiration is current affairs or nature. All of these concerns of artists are reflected in the pages of our art special, timed as usual just ahead of the annual India Art Fair (1-4 February) in Delhi. We go a little further this year, as our arts writer Avantika Bhuyan, the driving force behind this issue, visits the studios of artists to understand what goes on inside and how everyday materials acquire such powerful meanings in artists’ hands. 

Also read: Art Special 2024: The rise of the artist-designer

With technology, design, speculative architecture and gaming entering the world of art, the studio is no longer a space filled with paint-spattered canvases, but more like a laboratory for hard work with hard drives, gaming consoles and welding tools. On a similar note, our deep dive into the trend of collectible design, which is finally catching up in India, lays bare new ways of looking at design—where innovation, creativity, form and materiality combine with function to create everyday objects that are works of art. In some ways, these objects—conceptual chairs, benches, lamps, mirrors and more—are more accessible to people, who are able to quickly grasp its use as well as its artistry.

A little further from home, the Middle East has become one of the most exciting places to be as an artist, a curator or a gallerist. It is not just Dubai, but cities such as Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Sharjah and AlUla that are buzzing with art activity. Biennales and art showcases, massive museums and art and cultural institutions are turning the focus on modern and contemporary art from West and South Asia and North Africa. Our report examines the factors that have resulted in this transformation and the ethos of collaboration that pervades art institutions in the region.

The best part about art, though, is not reading about it or collecting it. The best thing is its power to move us and make us feel like we’re seeing an emotion brought to life. As Toni Morrison said in a 2013 speech, “Art reminds us that we belong here.” And so, once you’re done reading all the stories in our art special, go out and see an exhibition or visit a gallery in your city—and to help you do that, we’ve got a list of the best shows across the country that are opening this week.

Write to the editor at shalini.umachandran@htlive.com

@shalinimb

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