Young artists to watch in 2022
A critic and writer once said to me in the context of the arts: “It is important to invest and engage in your generation – a collector should follow the artists of their day, and artists should deliberate with them. the writers and curators of their own generation. This thought has stuck with me ever since, especially when it comes to younger artists who reflect our current times, the things we experience and issues close to our hearts like ecological imbalance or political polarity.
In the context of today’s young contemporary artists, few strong themes emerge. First, they are ready to experiment. Rejecting the hegemony of the West or even following in the footsteps of their elders, their art is void of any baggage of the past. Second, there is a renewed interest in skills. Well-executed works, with a solid technical basis, seem more common than before. And finally, the fundamental ideas are more rooted in their own traditions, their homeland and their immediate environment.
As we begin this new year, here is a list of early career artists to watch:
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Abhishek Dodiya: a new approach to metal
Dodiya is engaged in the dismantling and reconstruction of his works. Inspiration often comes from a deep observation of one’s surroundings. “I invite viewers to experience the openness of the surface of my work which revisits lived events, aggravated by the complexity of emotions,” he says. His Cyclone series is particularly noteworthy, where he used sheets that appear malleable to the softest touch. His documentation of recent devastating storms in Gujarat’s coastal areas is a grim reminder of the potential impact of the climate crisis.
This comes naturally to Dodiya, who lives and works in Bhavnagar (Gujarat), known for its shipbreaking industry. He says his choice of material and process is heavily influenced by the “space, texture, sound and smell” of his hometown. He graduated from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda in 2020. Since then Dodiya has been awarded by Gujarat State Lalit Kala Academy and Prafulla Dahanukar Foundation.
“Nox Umbra-Fallen Angels” by Divya Singh
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Divya Singh: a look at memory
Singh’s practice is mainly rooted in paintings that explore themes of isolation and memory. These emanate in large part from a poetic engagement with the very idea of ”time”. “I borrow from the disciplines of photography, writing, as well as cinema. These various elements come together in my work, ”she says, and this is most clearly seen in the recent artist books she has created. Singh is currently working with instant film / polaroid. His paintings evoke the same sensitivity as that of a period photograph.
She studies the idea of time: while oil painting is a slow process, Polaroid is instantaneous. Instant photography initially replaced drawing. It just captured the moment she could refer to for her paintings. But gradually, Singh’s photos started to resemble her paintings and vice versa, and she allowed this crossbreeding of qualities to persist. His art is very relevant to our contemporary times and encourages viewers to look inside. Singh received her MA in Fine Arts from Shiv Nadar University in 2018. She was recently awarded the Space118 Fine Arts Fellowship.
Untitled sculpture by Gurjeet Singh
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Gurjeet Singh: sculptures that tell new stories
Singh was introduced to the art by his family. “As a child, I saw women in the family always busy decorating the house, sewing and embroidering,” he says. He was involved in all of these activities and learned the techniques from his sisters. Singh also helped his father in his scooter repair shop, which helped him immensely in learning how to operate machines.
His soft sculptures padded with textile and embellished with embroidered patterns are a response to his environment and his experiences full of stories and humor. He conveys them by creating imagined characters. Singh’s sculptures revolve around “behind-the-scenes stories, abuse and neglect, identity and loss, and are often very personal”. Singh completed his Masters with a Gold Medal from the College of Art, Chandigarh in 2019. He is a recipient of the Khoj and Kochi-Muziris Biennale Fellowships and recently received the Inlaks Fine Arts Award and the Amrita Sher-Gil Award.
Koyal Raheja’s “claustrophobia”
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Koyal Raheja: questioning the systems of the past
In Raheja’s explorations, she asks a question about the enigma between the body as a living organism and the body which loses its significant behavioral elements, reduced to a tool, regulated by its mechanical efficiency. His works elaborate on the behaviors and transfigurations of a docile body which passes to a dictated body. In a recent series, exploring ideas around gesture, space and self, she draws figures performing the regulating gesture of a school assembly, each individual at an equal distance from each other. Raheja’s “bodies” encompass regimented, lyrical and minute variations.
“Through my work I try to challenge the systems and structures of the past and present using different lenses of conformity, rebellion and separation,” she says. Raheja graduated from Studio Arts College International in Florence in 2019. Her works have been part of major exhibitions in Italy and India, notably at Cenacolo Fiorentini # 8 in the library of the San Marco Museum, Florence; Bring into play at Accaventquatro Casa Galleria, Prato; and Phantoms of Image (in) Nation at the High Street Gallery, Bangalore.
untitled work by Kumar Misal
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Kumar Misal: shining the spotlight on the farmer
Misal comes from a family of farmers. His approach to art is based on a natural aesthetic that reflects the relationship and importance of nature in rural life. It also shows in the process. Misal makes her own paper and often uses mud to stain it. The surface itself therefore becomes essential to him, and being “made on the farm”, it becomes important for his cause. The artist’s prints evoke the perils of a farmer. It celebrates the act of growing food in a way that rejects any political connotation. Misal graduated from JJ School of Arts in Mumbai in 2020. He was awarded the Kochi-Muziris Biennial Fellowship and the Krishna Reddy Prize for Printmaking.
Sarah Naqvi’s “Cage”
Sarah Naqvi: a bold vision of societal stigma
Naqvi is a multimedia artist, who engages in stories on the theme of religious and societal stigmas. With textiles and embroidery being the primary medium of their practice, Naqvi uses the cathartic nature of the process to address relevant issues of marginalization. This stems from his training in textiles at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.
“I was a restless child, always creating things but destroying them in the end. It was probably the genesis of the rebel in me, ”they say. Their works overlap with classical painting, technology and performance. Naqvi’s creative process is rooted in a highly personalized account of her experience with the company.
In his recent book entitled Solidarity coverage, Naqvi uses an image of a quilt from a protester from the Shaheen Bagh site. He embodies the strength and warmth of resilience and the hope to protect India’s secular future.
They studied Liberal Arts at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai in 2018 and are currently participating in the De Ateliers residency program in Berlin. They have received the “The Phenomenal she” award from the National Indian Bar Association and the Ford NID Foundation grant.
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Sonali Sonam, from the series ‘Reimagining the Mundane’
Sonali Sonam: celebrating beauty in the mundane
Intrigued by the idea of non-static beauty, Sonam observes and draws inspiration from her own surrounding and socio-political scenarios. His works, influenced by the miniature style, explore the natural world in an urban setting. According to her, beauty is not personal, rather it depends on the beholder and it changes over time. “I’m interested in how a collection of mundane activities can become a new reality, where once we all exist but at the same time it becomes strange to us,” she says. In his recent series entitled Re-imagine the mundane, she creates scenes of natural beauty through the flora and fauna in an urban environment without everything that has been created by man. Sonam graduated from the College of Arts, New Delhi in 2021. She was awarded the Shristi AIF Fellowship and the Camel Art Foundation National and Zonal Awards.
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