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Significant shows by modern & contemporary Indian artists
A series of significant international exhibitions showcase important works of modern and contemporary Indian artists, who draw on a multifaceted artistic heritage of political engagement, popular culture, classical mythology, and folk traditions. The branches of this hybrid artistic tree sprawl into many corners of the material world, yet are anchored by a sense of the timeless interconnectedness of life and death, good and evil, individuality and universality.

Modern & Contemporary Art from India at The San Jose Museum

California based San Jose Museum of Art presents a landmark show of modern & contemporary art from India, entitled ‘Roots in the Air, Branches Below’ is drawn entirely from eleven private collections in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to curator Kristen Evangelista, the artists featured in it embrace both the international art world, (with its penchant for artistic innovation), and the spiritual roots of Indian art.

A meticulous survey of recent art from India, the exhibit showcases important works rarely seen on the West Coast. It maps the dramatic economic and social transformation of the country since its independence that has bred a similar explosion in the domain of visual arts. Included are paintings by renowned modernists such as MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta, FN Souza, and SH Raza. The contemporary generation of rising talents and global trendsetters is represented by Dhruvi Acharya, Rina Banerjee, Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Anju Dodiya, Vibha Galhotra, Chitra Ganesh, Zarina Hashmi, GR Iranna, Jitish Kallat, Anish Kapoor, Suhasini Kejriwal, Bari Kumar, Sheila Makhijani, Surendran Nair, KP Reji, Rekha Rodwittiya, Valay Shende, Anjum Singh, and Chintan Upadhyay among others.

Elaborating on the core concept, executive Director at SJMA, Susan Krane Oshman, mentions, "Indian art is a dynamic and fast-growing presence on the international art scene, yet it is still rarely explored in museums in this country. The museum show unveils this important and exciting project to the diverse audiences of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. For those most familiar with the traditional arts of India, the project offers a fascinating and perhaps surprising overview of the art of our times, and that of post-colonial India."

‘Roots in the Air, Branches Below’ includes over 30 paintings, around a dozen drawings and watercolors, apart from seven sculptures. The exhibit begins with paintings by the leaders of the cosmopolitan, avant-garde Progressive Artists' Group. One of the leaders of this movement is MF Husain, among India's most famous painters, whose themes and symbolism are inspired by Indian mythology. His expressive brushwork and angular forms, however, unmistakably echo European modernism. Other modern artists on view are Majit Bawa (1941-2008), VS Gaitonde (1924-2001), Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta (1924-2009), Mahhvi Parekh, Ganesh Pyne, Raza, Jamini Roy (1887-1972), Jehangir Sabavala, Souza (1924-2002), KG Subramanyan, and Jagdish Swaminathan (1928-1994).

A solo of works by ‘the superstar of India's contemporary art’

Sara Hildén Art Museum in Finland hosts a solo of recent works by Subodh Gupta, whom it describes as ‘the superstar of India's contemporary art’, and also among the most important names in international contemporary art. His paintings, sculptures, installations and performance art - related to Indian tradition and change in the society - present Indian lifestyle in a recognizable visual language. He belongs to the new generation of artists who study and project the Indian identity on a global level.

Themes of economic growth, materialism and emigration are conveyed through ordinary objects. Steel lunch boxes, thali pans or bicycles reflect the artist's personal life and memories, apart from dealing with the Indian way of life and everyday culture. Before his education as a visual artist, Gupta, passionate about film, was a street theatre actor.

Born in the poor Indian countryside in the state Bihar, and now based in Delhi - his journey in a way is an allegory of today's India - the growing middle class that migrated from villages to cities is clearing the path for change, embracing capitalist culture. The artist is interested in what inevitably disappears in this dramatic process of change. His monumental sculptures and installations symbolize the transition from ancient Indian culture to the modern way of life. The exhibition features 10 paintings, a 29 piece bodypaint series, several sculptures and installations by him.

‘Indian Highway IV’ in France

A vibrant generation of Indian artists now works across a range of artistic media from painting, sculpture, and photography to installation and video art, reflecting on the country’s role as an important player within the global economy. ‘Indian Highway IV’ takes place at Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art in France. The grand traveling exhibit continues its Journey across 3 continents: Europe, South America and Asia. After London (Serpentine Gallery), Oslo (Astrup Fearnley Museet), Herning (Museum of Contemporary Art) it now comes to Lyon. In the form of a road movie across 3 continents (Europe, South America, Asia), each stage along the ‘Indian Highway’ is the occasion for a totally new episode.

The show curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Gunnar B. Kvaran and Thierry Raspail features works by several established and talented artists like Rohini Devasher, Sheela Gowda, Bani Abidi, Ayisha Abraham, Hemali Bhuta, Sarnath Banerjee, Ravi Agarwal, NS Harsha, Abhishek Hazra, Jitish Kallat, Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Amar Kanwar, Bharti Kher, Nalini Malani, Jagannath Panda, Prajakta Potnis, Raqs Media collective, Tejal Shah, Valay Shende, Sudarshan Shetty, Dayanita Singh, Sumakshi Singh, Kiran Subbaiah, Thukral & Tagra, Hema Upadhyay and Bose Krishnamachari.

The highway’s impact on and importance for movement and development is the overall theme of the exhibition. Its title also refers to technology and the information superhighway that has played such a crucial role for India’s financial boom and for the development undergone within the nation’s art scene in recent decades.

Captivating ‘Contemporary Miniatures’

‘Contemporary Miniatures’ is another interesting show at Redcliffe City Art Gallery, Caboolture in Australia. It’s a collection-based traveling show drawn from the Queensland Art Gallery’s fine holdings of Miniature Paintings from South Asia. It features works by artists like NS Harsha, Ali Kazim, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Sangeeta Sandrasegar, Hossein & Angela Valamanesh, Mahreen Asif Zuberi, Surendran Nair and Jon Cattapan.

This exhibition explores the continued significance of miniature painting in contemporary art by artists from India, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan and Australia. These artists consider the miniature form as a dynamic and elaborate visual language in which to articulate specific histories and contemporary narratives.