It is with great pleasure and excitement that MOSA presents this amazing show entitled Incredible India: Stories from the Land of Jamun. Despite the pandemic that has affected and continues to affect the whole world, we want to bring this group show of ten very talented young artists from the Indian subcontinent to European audiences. We want to share with MOSA’s visitors a taste of high quality, contemporary art from India and to continue one of MOSA’s objectives: the promotion of spiritual art from India.
This exhibit is possible through the collaboration of the Museum of Sacred Art based in Brussels and Arts for All based in New Delhi. Archana Sapra, one of the Directors of Arts for All, and I have co-curated this show. First we selected 10 talented artists from the many artists who have worked with Arts for All; then we travelled to Baroda to meet many of them in their studios to select the works for the collection that MOSA purchased from them; then we had a wonderful opening and preview of the exhibit in New Delhi at the Arts for All Gallery Space in South Delhi. Many well-known artists came for the opening and encouraged the young artists to present by commenting on the high quality of their work. We have collaborated with Arts for All on many art projects, and it is always a pleasure to interact with Archana and Puja, who both put their hearts and minds into finding ways to encourage, train and promote talented young artists from all over India.
The show really reflects Incredible India with a wide range of styles, materials, themes and sizes. From very small works to very large ones, the viewer will be presented with the many India’s co-existing in a country that never stops marvelling all who visit. We hope that the public will come in large numbers (despite the pandemic still threatening to cause havoc) to discover these wonderful young artists from India. The show will remain on display for approximately one year, and we hope it can travel to other venues in Belgium.
This exhibition of artworks by a select group of ten emerging artists from different regions of India mirrors the multipolarity of life in a spiritual context that continues to invigorate ‘Incredible India’ and its pluralistic society. Reflective of multiple cultures, voices, identities, ideologies and denominations, the myriad stories featured in the artworks represent a wholesome cultural collective of many ‘India-s’ in one.
The eclectic and fascinating mix of arts in diverse media and manifestations by these ten young artists, selected and nurtured by Arts4All, present an interesting assemblage in which different artists give each rasa its own interpretation and take on the stories within the theme. Essentially meditative, mystical, spiritual, and assimilative, the artworks engage with human issues from birth to death, nature to spirituality, and all else in between. The collection features paintings, drawings and etchings among other art forms, reflective of unity in diversity within an interface between a local and global context. The creative expressions resonate with the continuum of the country’s socio-cultural milieu, though in new colours and different forms, as the artists respond to the changing times and needs.
Included in the exhibition are young and upcoming artists making a mark for themselves. Arts4All is happy to have been part of their ongoing journey by being a stepping stone whilst providing them with a nurturing platform and suitable opportunities, including continued guidance for their growth.
The works created for the exhibition are reflective of our India in its varied interwoven layers. Most of the works have been specially commissioned after several discussions and studio visits by both Martin and me.
The idea was to show India in all its diversity — the traditional, as well as the modern multi-cultural India, keeping the subject of spirituality in focus. The artists were selected keeping this in mind, and they all have made a marvellous attempt to reflect this in their works.
Archana B. Sapra
Durga Prasad Chaganti was born in 1994 at Anakapalle, a suburb of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, and he grew up in that small township. His father, who worked as a cycle mechanic, had a talented hand, and Durga Prasad recalls helping him create furniture and other useful items for the household with readily available materials, including electronic waste. Even as a little boy, rather than work on his schoolbooks, he preferred to draw, sketch and play with material, thus winning prizes for his art. Therefore, after finishing basic education, it seemed natural for him follow in the footsteps of his brother, who is also an artist, by pursuing his passion for art. To undertake his formal studies in art, he joined Andhra University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in sculpture, painting and printmaking at Vishakhapatnam, and he followed it up with a Master’s degree in sculpture from Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi.
Born in 1993 in rural Saurashtra, Gujarat, Bharat Dodiya grew up in an agrarian family with strong spiritual leanings. Even as a child, the young boy had an obvious leaning towards creativity. He would draw and paint the peacocks in the fields around his home but gradually took to painting elephants because they reminded him of Lord Ganesha. Good at workmanship and drawing, Bharat also made props and played the roles of characters from the Mahabharata epics. To take his passion forward, he joined a course in drawing at Anand, struggling hard to survive, taking up small assignments to sustain himself. He later joined MSU in Vadodara, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in painting and a Master’s degree in Visual Art in graphics — both in first class.
Ravi Kumar Chunchula was born in 1989 at Rayadurg in Andhra Pradesh and comes from a family of weavers and business people. He spent his childhood and schooling years in and around Hampi, known for the elaborate architecture of its temples as well as its Ramayana murals, royal palaces and forts. Good at drawing and handiwork, he also learned stitching and took to professional studies in art. After completing his BFA in Painting from the SV College of Fine Arts in Madhapur’s Osmania University, he passed his MFA in Printmaking from the SN School of Arts and Communication at the University of Hyderabad.
Gulab M. Kapadiya was born in 1992 at Dhari Amreli and grew up in a small-town semi-urban area of Gujarat. After completing his schooling locally, he took to seriously pursuing his interest in art, earning his Graduation and Post Graduation Diplomas in painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara, Gujarat.
Puja Mondal was born in 1994 and grew up in the historic city of Kolkata surrounded by its old British era architecture where she also did her basic education and schooling. Given her keen early childhood interest in creative work, she took to formally studying art and passed her Bachelor’s degree in visual arts and her Masters in painting from MS University in Vadodara, Gujarat.
Keerti Pooja, hailing from a Telugu family, was born in 1995 at Jamshedpur, spending her childhood and doing her schooling in this industrial town known as the steel city. She shifted her base to Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to take forward her interest in art, and from there she completed her BFA in painting, moving thereafter to Vadodara in Gujarat to pursue her MFA in printmaking from the Graphics Department at the prestigious MS University.
Srinivas Pulagam was born in 1989 and grew up in a small village in the rural Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. His family of kshatriya (warrior or ruling class) farmers, who are also purohits (priests) in a local temple built on their land, meant that young Srinivas, besides helping with farm activities, was also able to observe and partake in the daily worship and rituals at the temple. After finishing his basic education at the local school, Srinivas, who was good at drawing and painting, went for a BFA in Painting from Andhra University and followed this with gaining an MVA in Printmaking at MS University in Baroda. Srinivas also assisted a senior contemporary artist, which has helped him refine his skills as a painter.
Thirumala Madupu Thirupathi was born in 1975 in the village of Konaraopet in Karimnagar District, Telangana State. It is in this part of rural India that Thirumala spent his first 17 years and did his schooling before shifting his base to Hyderabad. Multi-talented and keen on creativity and handiwork, he attended a technical training course in drawing before earning his BFA in painting from the College of Fine Arts JNTU in Hyderabad, followed by an MFA in painting from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, College of Fine Arts in Bangalore. Throughout his studies, Thirumala did odd jobs to maintain himself in the big city: teaching children to draw, undertaking commercial assignments, painting portraits, posters, and making cutouts for hoarding. Since finishing his master’s degree, he is continuing to work fulltime as a freelance artist and has also done some interiors and special commissions for hotels, coffee shops, etc.
Sonal Varshneya was born in 1985 in Agra, Uttar Pradesh in a Hindu Vaishya family and grew up in a religious environment. The city of Taj, located in the vicinity close to Mathura and Vrindavan, where she also pursued her education, has clearly impacted her creativity. With a talent in drawing and art making, she decided to study art, passing her graduation and master’s in visual arts, specializing in printmaking from Lalit Kala Sansthan in the University of Agra. Sonal is presently based in Lucknow and works in the printmaking workshop at the Lalit Kala Academy’s Regional Center in the city.
Madhu Venugopalan was born in 1976 in Kochi, the old colonial town and spice hub of India, now a famous center for the international Kochi art Biennale in Kerala. He grew up in a family of vaids (traditional medicine practitioners), and his parents and elders taught him the same profession. Apart from being a trained and talented artist, he is also a believer in and practitioner of spirituality and yoga and is a siddha (an achiever of physical and spiritual enlightenment) in the traditional alchemist system of medicine and healing. In 1998 he received his BFA in painting from the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala). Often in traditional white clothing, he paints as a freelance artist and is also engaged in yogic healing practices. Presently, he lives and works from his studio in Ernakulam.