Electric wires criss-crossing continents in Reena Saini Kallat’s works and Mahbubur Rahman’s Lonely King, among other artworks at India Art Fair 2017, explore themes of immigration, isolation and feminism.

Electric wires criss-crossing continents in Reena Saini Kallat’s works and Mahbubur Rahman’s Lonely King, among other artworks at India Art Fair 2017, explore themes of immigration, isolation and feminism.


The artwork, using electric wires as yarn to create a map, suggests migration patterns globally. In an interview, artist Reena Saini Kallat has described Woven Chronicle saying, “Woven Chronicle traces the movement of migrants historically, beginning from the earliest migrations out of Africa due to climate change through to later indentured labour migrations, more recently in industrial and now within post-industrial societies.” The work highlights the inherent contradiction in celebrating an increasingly connected world while stringent immigration laws, closed ­borders and prejudice face individuals seeking to transgress geographic boundaries.

As the wires criss-cross continents, sound effects inducing ship horns and electric pulses are meant to resonate with “mechanical-sounding drones, factory sirens intermingling with migratory bird sounds”.


(Courtesy Aicon Gallery)

Anila Quayyum Agha’s All the Flowers Are For Me is a metaphor for the wedding of the imagination, the nuptial that all brides envision as a burst of joy and beauty centered around themselves. “The reality of the wedding, its errant details, its incipient obligations are far from this; but yet the bride everywhere continues to dream and hope that all the flowers are for me and I will be remembered.” Her collection Walking With My Mothers Shadow reflects on the complexities of love, loss and gains; experienced by her over the past year. The works on paper and the sculptural installations were borne from a mix of emotions following her son’s wedding and her mother’s passing within weeks of each other early this year. The personal loss of a mother, in a broader sense, is compounded by the communal loss – of loved ones, identities, homes and countries – experienced by myriad people across a world ravaged by the atrocities of war and displacement. Simultaneously, Anila also sees this body of work as reflective of joy for her son’s future life, along with the lives of many others across the world who have been given second chances through resettlement in new lands, but who will always carry with them a sense of loss for their uprootedness.”


(Courtesy: Grosvenor Gallery)

Olivia Fraser’s Kalachakra or Wheel of Time uses stone pigment and Arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper. She describes her work, “I wanted to explore the idea of Time and its revolving nature: from Creation (Brahma), through Preservation (Vishnu) to Destruction (Shiva). I wanted to express the sensation of Time, the sensation of its movement- depicted with spiralling lotus petals turning in one direction (Creation) and in the opposite direction (Destruction) – with both flanking an ever expanding stasis (Preservation) in the central panel. I wanted to express the essence visually of a complex philosophical idea.” The lotus has been a recurring motif in her works. She says, “I’ve been looking at how the icon of the lotus—so central to Indian iconography—can be deconstructed, can expand in possible meaning, pulling it apart here into shifting petals. A lot of my work has been informed by my practice of yoga and visualizations of lotus chakras play a key role in meditation. In meditation there is both movement and stillness, which reflects, I think, what the concept of the wheel of Time is about.”


(Courtesy Blueprint 12)

Mahbubur Rahman’s Lonely King uses stainless steel surgical scissors and leather to make this statement, “In our society we worship power and money. You have an added value when you are ready to complete the needs and purposes. You gain more power and leadership until you serve and meet other’s desires. Just like the consumer world, we live in such an aggressive society, where someone can be ‘No One’ at any point, no matter if the person deserves that. Everybody is King in his own dream world. But if the dream is taken away the same King can become the ‘Lonely King’ and start living in isolation.”


(Courtesy Wonderwall)

Wonderwall’s show Faith encompasses the works of nine photographers, who have shot across various places of worship, embracing Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism among others. Besides Ajay Rajgarhia, the participating artists include Amber Hammad, Anshika Varma, B Ajay Sharma, Karan Khanna, Prarthana Modi, Saadiya Kochar, Udit Kulshrestha and Vikas Malhotra. Ajay Rajgarhia quit a career in Investment Banking to start a garment factory and worked with big brands, which led to the ultimate question, “There has to be more to this…” This prompted him to get behind the camera lens and explore the world with his inner eye. He enjoys finding inspiration in the mundane and forgotten. He has recently started working with Video Art, “to add moving images with sound to complete a story that perhaps, may be left unfinished with a still picture.” He is also the promoter of Wonderwall, one of India’s first galleries dedicated to fine art photography.


(Courtesy: Shrine Empire Gallery)

Tayeba Begum Lipi’s The Swing is a critique of the rapid industrialization and urbanization in Dhaka. “The artist is nostalgic for the open landscapes of her childhood and her playground swing that allowed her to survey the rivers and trees from a height. These have been replaced by swings looking out from confined balconies, where one can barely catch a glimpse of the sky. She extends the razor blade motif that she is most known for beyond the context of feminist protest against structural oppression to hint at still another form of oppression driven by capital, without any thought for the environment.”

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