From traditional watercolours to modern abstracts, from the conventionally beautiful to downright bizarre, the United Art Fair at Pragati Maidan here has it all and then some. Around 2,000 works of art in various avatars like paintings, sculptors’ installations, print-making and digital art are on display up to this Sunday.
The exhibition hall has been divided on the basis of “streets” bearing household names like Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gil and Rabindranath Tagore. The exhibition is divided into separate spaces, the division is called “Mind the Gap” and one half features the known and the other the relatively unknown.
While the “known” has regular beauties like M.F. Husain and Sunil Das, the unknown is rich and does what a good piece of art is supposed to do – it stays with you even after you leave.
There are the clever paintings. “See here, it is a landscaped garden!” says Vincent Pallissery, an artist from Kerala, before affixing a stainless steel contraption that looks like a flask over the painting. Suddenly there appears, as if out of nowhere, the reflection of Mahatma Gandhi.
There is the abstract. “My painting of sea shells against the background of the world map has a special meaning. Once the earth was only water, so I mean to tell people that the world map and what it means is nothing except water,” says Shijo Jacob.
There are also the realists. “My paintings depict the plight of children in the Maoist-affected areas…they wake up to the sounds of gun-shots, are more adept at fighting than playing,” says Harisadhan Dey from Kolkata.
The cyber world too has been explored. “If you upload any image from my paintings here on the Internet, it would directly correspond to a song or a tag-line from an ad,” says Sanjay Sundaram, a former IIT-Bombay student.
The quirky is also abundant. It is not uncommon to chance upon a smug-looking cat in a policeman’s uniform or a barrow filled with plastic human legs. The same woman posing as Indian royalty is depicted as a British harlot by another artist.
A special mention is the corner reserved for eminent photographer Raja Deen Dayal. An era that was in danger of being lost has been beautifully captured by this man and is a visual treat for the avid historian. There are depictions of passages from the myths in all their grandeur and there are paintings of harsh reality.
There are paintings of grand havelis and there are paintings of toilets and human defecation. There are paintings celebrating the human body and there are paintings of demons. Art in its many manifestations is not found wanting -- pay a visit, art aficionado or not.