Exhibition: A group of artists paint the biography of an era using the techniques and mediums of their choice

Biographies are to do with people but creativity knows no definitions. Creativity Art Gallery in Hauz Khas Village has taken the idea and placed it at the core of an exhibition that brings together 46 artists to document an entire era. At ‘Biography’, each artwork is an individual expression within a larger narrative constructed by all of them in unison. Debabrota Das, curator of the show, describes it as a form of socio-cultural documentation that pushes the boundaries of the formal definition of the title and also brings in an element of the artists’ subconscious.“You’ll see artworks from the 1940s to 2013 on display, representing different perspectives on different aspects of the era as a whole. Some offer criticism, while others have a more positive tone,” he explains. The idea is to create an experience for the onlooker with a wide range of artists, from senior ones like Tejinder Kanda and Somu Desai to young contemporary artists such as George Martin and Gunjan Tyagi.

Kanda’s exquisite canvas has been executed in impasto, a technique that uses a thick layer of paint and a palette knife. The paintbrush is put to minimal use dictated only by necessity. Elsewhere, bright splashes of colour compose abstract forms but that’s only from a distance. Going closer the viewer will witness the story of a bustling suburban street unfold. “The beauty of anything I make lies in the richness of its colours, for me. And what an abundance of colours is available in a street!,” says Kanda.Another perspective of the cityscape comes from George Martin in his acrylic. Depicted in a riot of bright colours, the distorted shapes present the duality of big cities that are home to elite as well as common living. Shopping malls and parked cars share the frame with cycle rickshaws. “Everyone coming to a big city has their own existential reasons for doing so, and a sense of displacement is the key inspiration for this painting,” elaborates George Martin.

In contrast to such issue-based works, stand Somu Desai’s creations, made as he himself admits, purely to be admired, “My art is not issue based. I focus on the Indian aesthetic tradition, and in India art has always been about a celebration of expression. My idea here is to play with the surface and create an illusion,” he says. His signature masking-and-revealing element makes itself known when you realise what you thought is a chequer plate is canvas made to look exactly like it using a technique he loves — masking tape carefully cut and applied, painted over with more than 40 layers and then peeled off to reveal the shapes so formed.

(Biography is on at Creativity Art Gallery, Hauz Khas Village, till January 9, 2014)