Noted contemporary artist Jitish Kallat recently rued that several of the world's tiniest nations have their very own government sanctioned national pavilions at the Venice Biennale, India still remains without one. He rightly pointed to the irony that in this massive global congregation India as a nation did not put up a pavilion.
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, INTACH Convener and the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s managing trustee, echoed his sentiments in a recent Times column. She wrote: “Sadly, India was not featured among the 77 countries that participated in this very important art event. True, four Indian artists - Sunil Gawde, Sheela Gowda, Nikhil Chopra and Anju Dodiya - were selected by the curator as a part of the International Exhibit, but they represent their own vision and not that of their country’s...
"Even countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, the UAE and Pakistan, where one would have thought contemporary art was not an important focus, had put up put up their pavilions. Unfortunately, the Government of India has neglected any active patronage or promotion of art in the international arena. Without state support it is difficult for galleries or individuals to achieve a high profile on the world stage where so many countries are actively lobbying for their artists and offer substantial state support through museums and international collaborations. "
As she rightly asserted, it’s important for the country to take part in such events because it happens to send a significant message to the world art community about how we tend to view ourselves.
Striking a positive chord, Jitish Kallat stated: “There’s certainly some optimism in the growing representation of Indian artists within the curated section; the Indian National Pavilion will happen when our Government wakes up. Now it is up to the Indian art world to fix the alarm.”