ent over a mirror above which are strung pomegran-ates, Amina Ahmad, 50, re-gards her reflection. She


A Kutchi-Turk Indian born in Africa, she grew up in UK, lived in Iran and US. Was awarded Barakat prize by the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture .


The Babu, the Nayika and the Cat, sculptures by Tapas Sarkar

Laura Williams of gallery Art18/21 is now a three-time India Art Fair veteran and has seen the event grow from strength to strength, “I don‟t think the international galleries are here to flirt with the Indian art market, but to build strong ties. Given that scenario, I do wish the paper work around transport-ing art across borders would lighten up,” says the gallery owner whose artists Alec Cummings and Isabel Rock have made India their second home. Galleries from Europe accounted for 26 per cent of the attendance, 14 per cent were from North and South America, Middle East, Africa and Australia and 57 per cent from Asia, including India.

then invites other viewers to see themselves in a pond dappled with red globules. It speaks of the tran-sience of identity and the persistence of beauty, an installation she created at the art residency of the Engendered Art Space, a 2,000 sq ft gallery at Shahpur Jat in Delhi. Ahmad was born in Africa and is a Kutchi-Turk Indian who grew up in England and lived in Iran and the US. These multiple strains of culture have affected her life and art. There are many artists like her who showed their works at the India Art Fair and in the collateral shows that kicked off in Delhi this January. “The diaspora is more relevant in today‟s transnational scenario be-cause it touches more lives as there

„„Her work is not


beautiful, but calming and uplifting because it is the result of her own spir-itual contemplation. Her work embodies a Sufi state of mind: connection to all

„„I am impressed with her use of
Born in Kolkata,became a British citizen, grew up in Kuwait, moved to the US. Has a master’s from Pratt
University after winning the Western art historical references and how she has brought in her own experiences to create a distinctly South Asian color palette.
Tony Korner,Publisher of Artforum

and what may be in between.
Leeza Ahmady,Direc

Joan Mitchell scholarship.

International magazine



tor,Asia Contemporary Art Week,NewYork


Diaspora artists find India a better showcase for their work but are unanimous that global exposure has left them richer in terms of experience
is a larger group of people struggling with issues of borders, securities and migration,” says Myna Mukherjee, 37, who lived in New York for 19 years, where she was director of Engendered for six years. She has re-cently moved back to Delhi, and launched Engendered Space, one of the first multidisciplinary alternative art spaces in Delhi. In another part of Delhi, artist L.N. Tallur says he has “deliberately” shared his time between India and South Korea for the past eight years. The Mysore-born Tallur, 40, was a strong contender for this year‟s Rs 10 lakh Skoda Art Prize. However, much to everyone‟s surprise, it was multi-media artist Navin Thomas who won the prize, announced on January 28. Tallur has even dedicated an artwork to his transnational identity. “I did a work called Souvenir Maker: Designed in America, Conceptualised in India, Made in China, Sponsored by Korea, Yes we are conditioned to think under flags. It was a barbed wire machine metamorphosed into a souvenir-making machine,” says Tallur, whose works are often ironi-cal and satirical. His price ranges from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5.15 lakh. Spending “Indian summers in Korea and Korean winters in India”, Tallur just showed his work at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. He also has works on display at a group exhibition at Art Alive Gallery in Gurgaon. For Bangalore-born K.K. Raghava, 31, who dropped out of school in 1996 to become a full-time cartoonist and then a painter, the first brush with diaspora came when he fell in love with a girl based in the US. Instead of going to art school he stud-

Born in Bangalore, he travelled across US, UK and Europe. His work was auctioned by Queens Museum and Christie’s.Winner of grant from America India Foundation.
Pois ed to be one of the most suc ces sful cros sover artists from Indi a i n the US, his genius lies in his simplicity and open- nes s to take from and give bac k to the envi-

There were a few grunts of disap-proval when emerging collector Parmesh Shahani commented on the surfeit of „commercial‟ work at the fair. Given that six of the large galleries— Vadehra, Espace, Nature Morte, Sakshi and Arushi from India and 1x1 from Dubai—had the hugely popular Ravindra Reddy‟s work on display, one can see where his grouse is coming from. Besides Reddy, saleable works by M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Anjolie Ela Menon and Laxma Goud were on display.
with Olina Banerji

ied with billboard painters and started an atelier to keep the dying art alive. “I wanted to make enough money to be with my girlfriend, who is now my wife, so we rented a van and toured all over the world selling my art works,” recalls Raghava, who showed a 6x4 ft mixed media canvas at the Art Musings booth at the India Art Fair that made a statement about the end of the Nehruvian dream and the birth of globalised India. His works are priced between Rs 25 lakh and an astronomical Rs 1.25 crore. For Karachi born Simeen Farhat it will be 20 years since she moved to the US and while she believes that “India currently has a strong presence, economically and culturally on the global art scene, the incidence of diaspora in the US was much stronger earlier than it is now”. Farhat‟s work com-prises Urdu text used in a symbolic-

ronment around him.‟‟
Myna Mukherjee, Director,Engendered Space




◆ OCTOBER 13, 2008




Born in Karachi, grew up in the US. Master’s from Texas Christian University, Fort Worth,and recipi-ent of Clay Fellowship Residency, US.

„„Widely collected from
Paris to Istanbul,Abu Dhabi to Texas, Simeen Farhat is one of the most popular emergent names in the East and the West. Her work, though incredibly aesthetic, is also immediately political.
Myna Mukherjee,Director,

Engendered Space



sculptural manner. While the calligraphic forms are based on the revolutionary poetry of Rumi, Saadi, Khayyam, Ghalib and Faiz, they are not to be read literally. Instead they create a visual energy. “The root for using text comes from the story of the Tower of Babel and also from the fact that language initially was derived from gestures and objects,” says the 43-yearold, who studied fine artists at Texas Christian University and Arizona State University. Farhat is showing her work at the exhibition Can You See Me?, a paral-lel art event during the India Art Fair hosted by Engendered Space. She has been jetting around the globe show-ing her work at Xerxes Art, London; The Slick Art Fair in Paris; La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Bahrain; and at Abu Dhabi. She has been doing brisk sales because her works are priced affordably be-tween Rs 3 and Rs 15 lakh. “In the last five years I‟ve been establishing connections outside the US, with trips to Pakistan, Europe, and the Middle East. Moving to the US definitely helped me see things with multiple perspectives; both as an in-sider and outsider,” says Farhat, who is planning a big solo in India. For Ahmad, showing in India seemed the most logical step given the global climate pervading the Indian art scene. “I feel very con-nected to where I was born, my her-itage, where I lived and where I am now. The need to have a sense of be-longing is always there and the pain of witnessing and being a part of mar-ginalised communities does not es-cape me,” says Ahmad who studied at the Royal College of Art. Earlier this year Ahmad had a solo at the Seven Arts Gallery in Delhi that marked her entry on the Indian art scene. She also showed works at the Seven Arts booth at the art fair titled Oh Subtle Earth. Ahmad‟s works are priced be-tween Rs 1.25 lakh and Rs 8.93 lakh. Enjoying the playful and experimental atmosphere of being around other diaspora artists, Sharmistha Ray painted a canvas live on a rooftop at Shahpur Jat on January 24. Having flown in from Mumbai after her suc-cessful exhibition at Galerie Mirch-andani+Steinruecke, Ray, 33, created The Erotic Impulse, a 6x8 diptych that was layered with salmon pink, pale green, vibrant reds and hot yellows. Colours that reflect her musings on gender-sexuality in the surroundings of green foliage and pink prayer flags. Ray quit her job as sales director at Hauser and Wirth gallery, New York, in 2011 and turned to painting large format abstracts on canvas.
Born in Mysore, grew up in Gujarat, Maharashtra,lives in Korea. Studied at Leeds Metropolitan University,UK,got Commonwealth Scholarship in 2001.

„„Tallur has mobilised his itinerant life
and multiple academic experiences to develop a practice that calls into question all manner of notions of belonging.

He capitalises on strangeness.
Chaitanya Sambrani, ANU School



Australian National University,Canberra

Before that she was a British citizen in the Middle East. The Joan Mitchell Scholarship let her study at Pratt Institute in New York, after which she worked with Bodhi Art Gallery as managing director. “I was tired of be-ing marginalised in the US where I had to underline my political re-sponse in my work. I want to work without that baggage. That‟s why I came back to India and was immedi-ately absorbed into the mainstream,” says Ray who has been here for six years. She prices her work between Rs 40,000 and Rs 12 lakh. “I don‟t want the metaphors of migration to be literal. I want to tie in the issues of displacement, migration and the turmoil that can occur from it in a more poetic and metaphorical way. And I want to do that as a glob-alised Indian,” Ray signs off. ■



◆ OCTOBER 13, 2008



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