The other Murakami and a few new masters: New auction on best of the contemporary art world
In what is considered one of his literary masterpieces (Kafka on the Shore), renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami says, “Artists are those who can evade the verbose.”
It may seem like a paradox coming from a writer, but the genius of simplicity cannot be overemphasised.
It is true of Murakami’s own writing that is distinctly Japanese in its minimalism and lucidness.
It may also be said to be true of the work of another great artist, with whom the literary genius shares his second name.
Takashi Murakami is a contemporary artist who is called the ‘Japanese Andy Warhol’, thanks to his proclivity for pop culture and colours.
Some of Murakami’s work may seem ‘verbose’ at first, but his overarching artistic sensibilities are anything but.
His creation of the ‘Superflat’ style/movement eschews complex techniques of depth and perspective in favour of flatness and directness in method and message.
Murakami’s work is entering the Indian art market for the first time in an upcoming auction in Mumbai.
But art aficionados and connoisseurs here will be familiar with his bold artistic ethos — a trait he shares with most contemporary artists of South Asia, indeed the whole world.
In our times of information overload, verbosity is the last thing we want or need in our art.
As a response to a society that seems to be rapidly spiralling out of control, a shared vocabulary of the blunt and blatant seems to have emerged.
This seems evident if one were to look at all the artists and artworks lined up for AstaGuru’s ‘South East Asian’ mega art auction, slated for Aug 22-23.
The auction is impressive in its scope in every way — geographically, politically, and aesthetically.
There are artists from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, and South Korea with mediums, forms, themes and styles vastly different from each other, yet united by angst that is unique to the 21st century.
The roster includes names like Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Bharti Kher, Valay Shende, Subodh Gupta, TV Santosh, each of whom represents some of the most definitive paradigms and forceful voices of contemporary Indian art.
Aesthetics & activism
A recce of some of the artworks in the auction will serve best to illustrate the spectrum of contemporary Indian and South Asian artistic thought, as it stands in the world today.
Some of the better-known works include Atul Dodiya’s definitive Honeycomb Triptych (2000), which has been exhibited during multiple landmark exhibitions, such as his solo exhibition titled Bombay Labyrinth / Laboratory that was curated by Ranjit Hoskote, and took place at The Japan Foundation Forum in Tokyo in the year 2001.
The work was also exhibited in Mumbai’s Jehangir art gallery called ‘A global view: Indian artists at home in the world’.
This is juxtaposed by his better half, Anju Dodiya’s work titled Light my fire, which has also held its own at places such as the House of World Cultures, Berlin organised by Galerie Mirchandani+Steinruecke, and India Xianzai: Contemporary Indian Art, 2009 Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Shanghai.
Where Atul’s work is laden with the spiritual symbolism of male mystics, Anju’s work is feminine in all its glory.
The narrative shifts from gender to political power in the works of artists like TV Santosh and Debanjan Roy.
Santosh’s photographic imagery invokes feelings of discomfort and urgency with respect to war-like situations, while Roy’s striking sculptures often use satire to drive home the lamentable absurdity of our national politics and leadership.
Jitish Kallat’s work takes up cudgels against the grave issue of environmental degradation through his notable set of mixed media sculptures titled Aquasaurus.
It includes recognisable ‘carcasses’ of vehicles made out of resin, created to showcase urban issues like water, transport and pollution and the ultimate war between the environment and urbanisation.
Other works such as Territorial Crossing by Ronald Ventura (Philippines), Anguish by Young Deok Seo (South Korea), Integration by Qin Xiong (China), Game of Thrones Triptych by Ompal Sansanwal (India), and You Lost When Someone Felt Hurt by Entang Wiharso (Indonesia) among others bring various schools and forms of art to the Indian art market.
Like their Indian counterparts, the art of these South Asian artists speak about universal aches like identity, injustice, oppression, freedom and peace.
Beyond the business of art, the hope is that auctions like these also become places of narrative exchange, venues of appreciation and empathy, and ultimately, conduits of change.
AstaGuru’s South East Asian online auction is on August 22-23.