New Delhi, Sep 17 IANS | 11 months ago

Art has always inspired its creators to paint society's turbulence and turmoil in grim hues. Cut to the ongoing United Art Fair, where contemporary artists, through the medium of pop art, are presenting dark humour in florid colours at the Pragati Maidan.


Artists like brothers Manil and Rohit Gupta, Sushant Panda, and Akhlaq Ahmad have taken cues from everyday life and interspersed them with their works that are a testimony of the growing "pop" art scene in India.

"I look at the word pop as a language that is popular and uses colours to represent the cultural dilemma we are living in. Usually dark humour or the message in this flush of colours gets lost, but clever eyes and neat observation can understand what the artist wants to say," Rohit Gupta told IANS.

The duo has five works at display with the circus as their theme and pig as a metaphor to take a dig at manhood and the human race.

"Life is a circus and we are all a part of it. We are the joker of the circus who is happy but we don't realise that we are the biggest jokers - like puppets whose strings are in someone else's hand," he added.

For Delhi-based Ahmad, his association with bright colours dates to his days of painting name boards of fruit juice shops with popular Bollywood faces.


Caption: Work by artist Hanif Kureshi at the United Art Fair

"I used to paint posters of Bollywood films in 2002 in Mumbai and then I started painting boards of juice outlets in Delhi. We had to use bright and happy colours, and my fascination for bright colours began from there," Ahmad told IANS.

His works are a collage of hoardings, Bollywood posters and fruit juice-shop paintings reminiscing a bygone era.

"That was popular culture once and it still will be if art is kept alive. Usually, people think that only if you paint in bright colours, it represents kitsch and pop. I am here to break that thought process. For me, the bygone is pop and it will always be popular. We just need to connect to the audiences," he added.

"Popular culture or pop art finds direct resonance with today's audience, and has power to attract the younger crowd," he added.

Orissa-based Panda has capitalised on the popular folk culture of Ganjam district and brought it to the art fair.

"There is a popular culture of performing tigers in Ganjam district. I have used that and added fashion elements and alphabets that lend it a pop status. The use of bright colours comes from the folk culture of body painting we have," Panda told IANS.

"I come from a small town and my association with Bollywood and the fashion world has introduced me to two different worlds. I have, through these works, tried to bring together both street culture and the glamour of entertainment," he added.

Though art is believed to deliver a message, Rohit Gupta pointed out that art should draw out people and not preach to them.

"We are not trying to preach to anyone. How you look at is what matters," he added.

(Posted on 17-09-2013)