One major takeaway from the lavish ‘Paris-Delhi-Bombay’ exhibition by around 50 Indian and French artists at Paris' Centre Pompidou running until September 19 is that India-centric and Indian-inspired art does not fit into neat compartments. But that has not deterred its curators from the ambitions of explicating view of contemporary India through art and looking to seek correspondences between the French and Indian visual languages.
But the converse happens instead and it tends to accentuate differences more than similarities. While French artists have an established aesthetic, their Indian counterparts look to rewrite rules and challenge clichés, as they do from a country deep in the throes of economic and social transformation.
Mapping the exhibition and its takeaways, an essay by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi in The TIME magazine (Indian Summer at Centre Pompidou) mentions: “There is nothing conventionally Indian, for example, about artist Sunil Gupta's photo-essay Sun City. In the series of exquisitely staged images, an Indian man takes on a white male lover and transgresses sexual norms in a revealing work about sexual subterfuge as the postmodern obsession with identity.
"A video installation by Amar Kanwar, The Scene of Crime, tells a tale of industrial greed and environmental degradation in eastern part of India. It’s a brilliant reworking of forms of narrative - a book of handmade paper carries text printed on one page whereas images pour over the opposing one from an overhead projector. The quietude of words tends to unite with an opera of images.
“Contributions from female artists are rather cosmopolitan and defiantly personal. Cocky images of historic female characters by Pushamala N feature consummate usage of light. An unnerving Silence (Blood Wedding) by Anita Dube comprises 13 odd talismanic and eerie objects that resemble flowers and necklaces, and echo themes of loss & fertility. A sublime installation of metal automobile parts vy Sakshi Gupta arranged in the geometric patterns of a rug evokes India’s industrialization."
‘Paris-Delhi-Bombay’ helps viewers discover Indian realities as well as imagined lives.