Laugh at the art world with Harinder Singh's cartoons

Harinder Singh's “Artoons V,” an exhibition of cartoons which takes a dig at the vibrant art world, comes as a respite during this spate of exhibitions. Born to painter Jaswant Singh, married to another one — Arpana Caur and being an artist himself, meant Harinder had a chance to observe the art world from close quarters.

The growing might of Indian art on both domestic and international circuit along with its rather strange relationship with the common man, nudged the artist to explore the subject in a light-hearted manner.

While politics, cinema, bureaucracy and others often catch the fancy of cartoonists, the vibrant art fraternity has gone largely unnoticed and this provided scope to Harinder to demystify it.

A date with laughter

He began to make people laugh in 2003 and continues with the good deed to date. The element of humour is intact in his fifth show which is currently on at Academy of Fine Arts and Literature.

The show is presented by The Nirula Family Art Trust. Drawing from his recollections of art openings, conversations with artist friends and auctions, the cartoonist paints the art world from the angle of a layman. For instance, there is a work where the hostess tells her guest how seepage can be patched by putting a frame around it. It is indeed a very do-able thing in a household. Another interpretation could be how everything can pass off as art today.

The jokes are not frivolous. Harinder resorts to intelligent humour by establishing a connection between recession-hit economy and art.

A particular watercolour shows two people looking at two different paintings which have artists' signatures in the middle of the work and guests remarking, “Investible art is where the artist's signatures are the main focal point and the image is built around them”.

“I don't want to be sarcastic or negative. I am stating something that I have seen,” says the artist who paints himself in a couple of works to position himself as an observer and someone who is privy to these conversations and discussions.

While technically the work has changed with the artist playing more with light and shade than before, in terms of content, Harinder says, “This time, I have focussed on communication which I believe should be easy and quick. In my last exhibition held in Hyderabad in 2007, I realised a few works were a little abstract which could be understood only by the art fraternity. I want to broaden the reach of my works.”

(The exhibition is on till December 23)