Georgina Maddox Posted online: Monday , Apr 26, 2010 at 2240 hrs
Art Basel in Switzerland will see an increased Indian presence this year
We don't think about the nationality of an artist, we choose them on the merit of their art," says Peter Nagy, whose gallery Nature Morte is the sole representation from New Delhi at this year's Art Basel, one of the most important art fairs in the world. Nagy's selection of artists for the fair includes the Brooklyn-based Pakistani artist Seher Shah, which explains his comment about nationality. Shah, who recently held a solo at Nature Morte titled "Jihad Pop", will carry her work titled The Mirror Spectacle, which extends her preoccupation with the changing identity of Muslims, seen through the sociopolitical lens of a post-9/11 world.
Nature Morte is among the five Indian galleries that will be present at Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland, from June 16 to June 20. The Basel committee came to India in 2009 since they felt that India required a better representation. For the first time since the art fair started 41 years ago, five galleries will be present from India. The other galleries participating are Gallery Chemould, Chatterjee and Lal and Sakshi Art Gallery from Mumbai, and Gallery SKE from Bangalore. Last year, there was just one Indian gallery at Art Basel.
Nagy says many galleries from across the world wait for years for a booth at Art Basel. "I think the reason we got into Art Basel is that we were part of the Armory show in New York 2005 since I am known internationally for my other gallery, Bose Pacia in New York," observes Nagy.
He says that Art Basel can be an expensive affair. "It costs about 30,000 euros to capture a booth big enough to show one artist's works well," he adds. The total cost of showing at Basel could reach a whopping 60,000 euros
"We have shipping and setting up costs as well as board and lodging and socializing with the well-heeled collectors," says Nagy.
Hence, gallery owners choose the artists to be presented with care. Apart from Shah, Nagy will show the works of TV Santosh and two new artists, Suhasini Kejriwal and Aditya Pande. Gallery Chemould, which has made the cut this year after trying for the last five years for a ticket into Art Basel, will feature works by Atul Dodiya and the late Baroda-based painter Bhupen Khakhar.
Dodiya is working in his studio to complete his "shutter" artwork for Art Basel. "My project responds to three of Bhupen's early 1970s' works that valourised the working class: Janta Watch Repairing, Sheikh Shoe Mart and Shankar Salon. I am currently working on an actual 9x6 feet shop-shutter that is bullet marked and slightly burnt as a symbol of the 2002 Gujarat carnage. It has less of Bhupen's wit and is more somber," says Dodiya. When you throw up the shop shutter, there is another layer of canvas inside where Dodiya has painted peasants struggling under the heavy burden of Russian painter Kazimir Malevich's black square and white circle. It appears that the common man is carrying the heavy burden of elite concerns on his shoulders.
Chatterjee and Lal will exhibit the works of Nikhil Chopra, while Sakshi Art Gallery will showcase Chen Chieh-Jen, an artist from Taiwan. Gallery SKE will showcase the works of Shreshta Premnath.