Today art is about production, not creation: Curator Uma Nair

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Questioning what contemporary artists are doing for society, prominent curator Uma Nair has said that they are concentrating on producing art and not creating it.

“What is happening today is production, not creation, of art. People like Alphonse Mucha and Pablo Picasso would find their own stone and material and create their works with their own hands,” Nair told IANS.

“I feel that contemporary artists don’t want to draw. Suddenly, everybody has gotten into this thing of fabrication. You don’t know who did the fabrication for you. You never give credit to the person who has created your sculpture, but you say that this is your sculpture when you haven’t even touched it with your hand,” she added.

To that extent “Earth Songs”, a tribal art and sculpture show curated by Nair that is on at Lalit Kala Akademi till November 15 is an attempt at course-correction. The exhibition will travel to many cities after Delhi.

“The show needs to travel for people to realise that India’s marginalised population has so much talent. Galleries also need to look at tribal art and not just elitest works by those who are earning millions. They are earning it for themselves; what are they doing for the art world?” she asked.

“Earth Songs” is a suite of works that portray the depth and appeal of India’s folk and tribal artists. The 66 paintings, along with a few sculptures, have been created at Lalit Kala Akademi art camps held over the past three years.

The 10 sculptures belong to Bastar folk art (1985) as well as wooden works that have been created more recently. While three works belong to the Madiya dancers of Chhattisgarh, a sculpture of a peacock and those of Mahadev Lord Shiva are creations that have unique iconography.

The exhibition begins with a tribal artist’s daughter Japani and goes on to three masters who are all award-winning artists.

“Japani is the daughter of an artist who committed suicide in Japan because they didn’t allow him to come back. He named his daughter after the Land of the Rising Sun. I begin the show with the works of Japani as a tribute to him,” Nair said.

“She belongs to the Gond tribe where nature is very important. You will find that they create hybrid compositions. Every composition tells us a story. These are old stories that have been handed down since generations.”

Japani Shyam said that she just created her works out of what she saw and felt.

“Sometimes I think of stories, sometimes I think about the beauty of nature about animals. I love birds and the deer; I feel if the forests are lost where will these animals goH,” she wondered.

Talking of Venkat Shyam, Uma Nair said: “I used his work for the poster of the exhibition. It’s so beautiful. When he speaks about nature, he speaks about the balance of the humankind.”

“I love the feminine note that he adds to it by giving us a saree that connects both men and women. He gives us the fish. In many ways, it has a very strong ecological echo,” she added.

“The trees and the creatures of forest are important in most of them. It is as if they give us the tree of life in different ways. According to them, the life revolves around tree,” she observed.

“I was fascinated by the neatness each composition has. Also, there is a peculiarity with which these artists treat their subjects. The creatures look so different. Each work tells us a different story.”

–IANS

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