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An ambitious, elaborate exhibition of Indian art in Japan
‘Chalo! India’ is one of the most ambitious and largest exhibitions of contemporary art from India ever held in Japan. The 5th anniversary exhibition of Mori Art Museum looks to unveil a new era of Indian art with it.

‘Chalo! India’ explores and celebrates the depth of this country; the contradictions of its society, the dreams and hopes of its people, and its energy and passion toward the future. Participating artists include Shilpa Gupta, Jagannath Panda, A. Balasubramaniam, Sarnath Banerjee, Pushpamala N., Nikhil Chopra, Krishnaraj Chonat, Justin Ponmany, Atul Dodiya, Ashim Purkayastha, Raqs Media Collective, Gigi Scaria, Tushar Joag, Subodh Gupta, Nataraj Sharma, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Kiran Subbaiah, Anant Joshi, Vivan Sundaram, Reena Saini Kallat, Jitish Kallat, Thukral & Tagra, Bharti Kher, Hema Upadhyay, N. S. Harsha, Prabhavathi Meppayil and Ranbir Kaleka.

‘Chalo! India’ (Let's go! India) allows visitors to discover an explosion of vitality and creativity in Indian contemporary art. It takes you on a journey through over 100 works by 27 artists and artist groups from all over the country. The show encompasses a broad range of media, comprising painting, photography, installation and sculpture. It provides the perfect opportunity to experience avant-garde artistic expressions from India for the art lovers of Japan.

Elaborating on the background of the monumental exercise, a release mentioned: “Following independence from Britain in 1947, artists from India started exploring new forms of artistic expressions – inspired by India's own distinctive culture and Western modernism. Over the next six decades, new work that powerfully embodied social and political critiques emerged. More recently, they have been coming up with works, which respond to changing contemporary lifestyles.”

There is so much more to the dynamic and complex India of today. And the art now reflects the rapid economic development, urbanization and globalization. Today the throbbing Indian art scene is spreading its wings both at home and abroad, and has been rightfully attracting a great deal of international attention.

Often in the past, the focus on the country has tended to revolve around its turbulent history, its multi-faith society, its rich cultural heritage and, more recently, a new-found fascination with Bollywood. These ideas are not sufficient to fully bring out the dynamic, evolving present-day India – the hopes and dreams of its people and the underlying contradictions in Indian society. The exhibition aims to fill in the gaps by hosting works of top contemporary artists to express their reaction to and perception of their changing land and, in the process, change the point of view of those less familiar with the modern India.

Projected as a significant survey of contemporary Indian art, it includes a research project involving architects and intellectuals, and state-of-the-art interactive media work. Along with the exhibition, informative discussions were held to focus on the recent changes and Indian society in general and art in particular. The session ‘21st Century India and the Process of Transformation’ involved a talk and performance by Raqs Media Collective. Introducing their own as well as other artists' video works, they discussed methods of ‘narrating’’ ‘reading’ and ‘listening’.

The director of Mori Art Museum, Nanjo Fumio, showcased photographs taken during his visit to India with curator of the show Miki Akiko to indicate just how much the country has changed. Ushiroshoji Masahiro traced the transformation in exhibits of Indian art held in Japan since 1970, comprising the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale with which he was directly involved. Several Indian artists also discussed their work.

Lecture series ‘Discover India’ had themes like ‘Lifestyle and Society in Contemporary India: Observations of the Urban Landscape’, ‘Dhoom! India: Thinking about the cool youth of today’, and ‘India through the Eyes of an Artist’ that explored the current state of India, focusing on the increased affluence.

An explanatory note stated: “Along with religion, philosophy and traditional forms of lifestyle, the new faces of India – IT, biotechnology, the stock market, low-cost cars – are impressing people the world over. New concepts of ‘Indian-ness’ are inspiring a contemporary culture, which is fresh and cool. The idea is to explore Indian society and culture, from film and literature to the contemporary art.”

‘Chalo! India’ examines how the contemporary artists use their insight and observation power to quiz the reality, taking their themes from ubiquitous objects, social interaction and day-to-day life. It maps out a diverse and dynamic contemporary art scene of India in the context of its current complexities.