A selection of eye-catching works

As United Art Fair celebrates the young, upcoming and hidden talent in visual arts from across the country, we pick a few artists with diverse art practices to demonstrate the kind of art on display at the Fair, but there are just so many more...

Dwarka Prasad

Work at UAF: Two chairs and one table painted in kaavad style

Price: From Rs.25,000 to 37,500

A native of Chittor district in Rajasthan, Dwarka Prasad is a practising kaavad artist since childhood. Kaavad is a portable wooden shrine on which the artist illustrates the sacred Hindu epics. While his ancestors did it on just these shrines, Dwarka has expanded it to book covers and furniture. In a work titled “Kissa kursi ka” he takes a dig at the political quagmire in the country. Again involved with Dastkari Haat Samiti, he says this engagement gave him a lot of exposure to further develop his art. “I manage to participate in five-six exhibitions in different parts of the country now. And it works out just fine for me and my family, in which everybody is a kaavad artist,” says Dwarka Prasad.

The USP of this art is its small figures and fine details. “I can make them even in a two-inch space and perhaps that’s why it can be adapted to different surfaces.”

Manisha Jha

Works at UAF: Nine acrylic works

Price: Rs.1.4 lakh to Four lakhs

Manisha employs a traditional visual vocabulary and places it in a new context. And that’s how the viewer sees such new forms in her work. That she trained in architecture has further added to her art practice and helped her take it to another level. Manisha represents the third generation of Madhubani artists in her family, who moved to Delhi five years ago. Migration and displacement has given her other levels of engagement with the art. So, the city and city-based issues often find a place in her work.

Selvaprakash Laksmanan

Works at UAF: Five colour photographs

Price: Rs.80,000 each

Poignant evocative work like this makes up the UAF’s powerful photography section curated by Ram Rahman. The 35-year-old Selvaprakash trains his lens on vanishing trades to make a comment on consumerism. Dignified portraits of a knife sharpener, milkman, rangoli powder seller comprise his work. There is also a deaf and dumb man carrying a film poster on his cycle. “I found him in Bangalore. He still goes around generating publicity for the upcoming film by carrying the film poster. Very soon all of this will be gone.”

With 20-25 exhibitions behind him, he is now planning a book on the vanishing trades. “I have covered most of the trades in South India but I need to focus on northern India.”

Basist Kumar

Works at UAF: Five canvases

Price: Rs.2,50,000 to 4,50,000

A young gun showing much promise from the lot of contemporary artists is this Kurukshetra-based painter. He has studied painting at Delhi College of Art and Visva-Bharati and is currently in China to further study new media art at the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou. Isolated life-size figures against a vast landscape create a sense of surrealism in his canvases. This is how Basist explains his approach: “I am interested in creating images which can provide a state of ongoing discovery of ‘self and the other’ while confronting my works. These works have an iconic feel to them holding different dimensions of life together. In most of my works there is a sense of dualism, physical and ethereal. That’s within me and I firmly believe that this tension always exists which pushes matters and meanings together to fuse on the same surface. Creating a metaphysical atmosphere by juxtaposition of objects in certain order leads the viewer to find an abstract meaning where he sees it in an unusual dimension. I try to bring these dimensions into contextual issues of our lives, personal and universal, together.”

Remant Kumar Mishra

Work at UAF: Two mannequinns and a stone bearing Madhubani

Price: Rs.25,000 and above

Amongst all the unconventional surfaces Madhubani has found to date, it has to be the quirkiest. And nobody would have thought, not even when in the drought stricken Mithila region, it made a transition from the walls to paper distributed to the women by Bhaskar Kulkarni (he was sent by the government) it would reach here.

Interventions by agencies seeking to nurture the tradition led to further innovations.

Remant’s art has benefitted from this plus the fact that the tradition runs in the family — Bhagwati Devi, a national award winner, has helped shape his language. He is encouraged by Dastkari Haat Samiti of Jaya Jaitly. Having worked on wood and textiles in the past, the Madubani-based artist finds such surfaces challenging. New surfaces come with new narratives as well, like here Remant has drawn his content from the brutal Delhi gang-rape and Bihar politics.