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The Art Of Contemporary Dialogue

Five artists – Kavita Nayar, printmaker; Karan Khanna, photographer; Anandamoy Banerji, mixed-media artist; Dipalee Daroz, sculptor working with clay; and Ingrid Pitzer, sculptor working with formed paper-pulp – have a free-flowing, open-ended, potent and intriguing conversation on ‘The Future of Contemporary Art’. Need we say more? 

 Photographs by Shantanu Prakash

Kavita Nayar (KN): For me, contemporary is what is going on at the moment. From art historical perspective it is everything post-modern. 

Anandamoy Banerji (AB): The term contemporary defines your 10 years. Isn’t that a poetic definition? It’s the preceding 10 years. It is the immediate recent history of your times.

KN: But when it comes to talking about contemporary art, it’s very difficult for us as practicing artists to be critical about it because we are too close to it. We are in it ourselves. 

Karan Khanna (KK): Art today in any case is so dynamic. You express the socio-political scene and what is happening in the world today. I find that this has been happening for centuries before. And it probably will carry on the day after tomorrow as well.

AB: I agree. The characterisation will change. But on the other hand, we call art fairs a ‘platform for the contemporary art’, as if trying to project and talk on a contemporary platform with light thrown on what is going to be the future of art.

KN: But what is wrong with that? Such events are important and very good.

AB: I’m not judging. Today you have hundreds of thousands of people visiting from a mere few thousand that ended up at the first art fair in India in 2008.
KK: It certainly helped in creating a new way of thinking about art and involvement of people in art. We follow the West all the time, as if history for the East is written by the West. We now talk of conceptual art but think of the contra perspective. What I find very interesting with my field of film photography today is that with the advent of the digital age, things have opened up to such a great extent. I started photography when there were black and white photos and I started with pretty much a pinhole-type camera and then you advanced through the ages into this totally wide open digital age. Your imagination is your limit.
KN: But Karan, tell me at this point do you feel redundant sometimes?

KK: I find it challenging and I find it very invigorating because here is something I thought I was pretty much a master of, doing my business very well and suddenly you are thrown into these screens where you are going through tutorials to use new tools and software. The whole thing becomes kind of an experimental issue actually rather than something straightforward like going out and shooting images.

KN: I feel the same for print-making. When we learnt and practiced, we were masters. And suddenly digital printing came. Viewers are not aware of the difference.

KK: That is the main problem that I think most photographers face today. Instead of looking at what I am trying to say in it or what I have done in it, they feel I have used Photoshop and that makes my picture less important. I tell such viewers ‘Why don’t they ask which brand of paint is used in a painting?’ If that is not important, then which software I used to alter my image is also irrelevant. 

Ingrid Pitzer (IP): I think we all see that in the same way. All these latest technical possibilities are good, but, for instance, art education does not help distinguish the skill, the reality and the virtual. And that is scary. We have no identity except a Facebook identity. Is it the same? No!

Dipalee Daroz (DD): I think if technology and manual or physical skills are used together, it can create wonders. Let me illustrate; Daroz has done some huge digital works recently. Digital images are printed directly on clay tiles. He creates all the images on the computer, but then takes it to clay in a technically sound way. And now he is thinking of the next stage of this process – to make it three-dimensional. For him, the flat surface is not bringing the tactile and relief quality of clay. But the plan is to use technology so it can be scaled far more than what human hands can do.

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