The year 1994 went by with only a few artists stirring us out of our reveries and a fewer still who overwhelmed us with their concerns.
Recent works of K.G. Subramanyan, Akbar Padamsee, Laxman Shreshtha, Jogen Chowdhury, Himmat Shah and Sudhir Patwardhan were the most memorable. A preoccupation with the philosophy of colour, the evocative power of line, the composition as mantra, painting as a form of speech and drawing as a process of knowing and sculpting form, were pivotal currents that enlivened the produce of the year just gone by.
Alexander D., Vasudev Akkitam, Ajay Desai and Jaya Ganguly were the other artists who took intense, lyrical cues from the poetry in nature and explored their medium to urge symbolic meanings.
Events of the moment compel certain directions in art. A revealing of pictorial commentaries and protests, personal grief and the trauma of societal breakdown, found a significant place in the works of Navjot, Arpana Caur, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Anjana Mehra, and Anupam Sud.
Others who tested the limits of sculpture and that yet-to-be understood form -the installation -protested quietly and brought in reflexive exercises with humour: Pushpamala N. and Rummana Hussain displayed works that were eccentric pointers to a general condition of mental nausea and anomie. At the same time, they called for a restoration of sensuousness as a value in the materials they used, such as terracotta, mirrors, and found objects. These artists were willing to walk on the edge and negate the vacuous enjoyment in art.
In a conservative way, Vasudha Thozur and Rekha Krishnan sought amelioration and change with idioms in oil paint that spelled out dilemmas and ways of looking and living in the urban environment. All in all, one witnessed a deepening of vision and slow, disturbing crossovers in the works of these artists. The age of effete mimicking and derivativeness has certainly come to an end.