An exhibition of young printmakers from across India is brimming with diversity in content and technique. Organised by a printmakers’ group, the effort is aimed at garnering respect for the medium.

In a full on season when it’s pouring exhibitions, left, right and centre, those showcasing prints can be counted on one’s fingers. With art market biased towards a few mediums, the exhibitions of prints have become fewer and fewer. In such a scenario, ‘A Festival Of Printmaking: The exhibition of young print artists of India’ reinforces hope. Around 80 young artists, selected by senior printmakers from different regions of India, are presenting their prints in the exhibition currently on at All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society (AIFACS) in New Delhi. The exhibition is dedicated to late Jagmohan Chopra, considered a pioneer in the arena of printmaking.

Organised by Multiple Encounters, a group of 12 senior printmakers, the showcase becomes a window for the viewer to see much variety in content and techniques of printmaking. For the young artist, it is an effective platform to show that the medium isn’t bound by any limitations. “I think we need to redefine the word ‘print’. A print can be my impression…it can be anything. It isn’t a substitute. It is a medium and it shouldn’t be bracketed,” says Ananda Moy Bannerji, one of the curators of the show and a member of Multiple Encounters. Artists like Ananda Moy Bannerji, Kavita Nayar, Dattatraya Apte, K.R.Subbanna and Sushanta Guha were associated with Indian Printmakers Guild for a long time and then they came together to push the cause of printmaking as Multiple Encounters around six years ago. Last year, the group rolled out Indo-US print exhibition showcasing 127 artists from India and America at Lalit Kala Akademi. “The idea is to make the society aware of the medium and giving a little push to the young printmakers. The medium should be respected and that will happen only when the society is educated about it. We can make it economically viable. Like we have book publishers, we could have print publishers in the country,” says Bannerji, who though works with different mediums but is really passionate about printmaking.

Chosen from all across India, these fresh pass-outs from art colleges present a collection which is exhaustive in nature on account of technique and subject matter. While a young Nilanjan Das takes a gentle dig at urban lives with his work titled ‘If I get a job in a real estate marketing company’ in lino, chinacolle on digital print, Priyanka Batra in her etchings ‘Femininity Series’ engages with gender issues poignantly. “All the works in the exhibition are so strong. Politics, urban life, human anatomy…the artists are engaging with various issues. The variety and the experimental nature of the works is the highlight of the show.” In another work Das, curiously integrates printmaking with computer generated imagery giving the medium a new dimension altogether.

Sachin Bhausaheb Nimbhalkar’s installation, built deconstructing the concept of playing cards, again fits into the category absolutely. The artist from Maharashtra takes recourse to his memory and culls out images from his village life. His grandmother, folk music instruments and other symbols enter his artistic realm, and the transparency the medium of lithography affords only aids Nimbalkar in expressing his feelings.

A young Gayathri K. of Andhra Pradesh chooses close-ups of insects as her subjects. Jagadeesh Tammineni, who studied printmaking in Baroda, renders the exterior of an art gallery displaying print show in woodcut.

“A lot of artists, I observed have used woodcut, which I feel is making a comeback. Artists like Priyoum Talukdar, Sanghita Das use this technique so beautifully,” feels Bannerji.

A slice of history

A small section dedicated to Ex-libris prints, taken from the collection of Paramjeet Singh, Chairman, AIFACS, underlines the significance of the medium and the significant role it has assumed in history. Ex-Libris is a Latin expression which means ‘from the books of’. Soon after books came out, a need was felt to mark their possession in some way. So after the printing press was invented, ex libris became a small printed label, pasted onto the volume’s back cover binding, bearing its owner’s name and a sign of personal identification, artistically executed through woodcut or wood engraving process. The collection showcases ex-libris prints produced in Japan, Finland, USSR and Romania.