Contemporary Indian artists are rapidly gaining recognition on the global stage, thanks to their innovative and experimental practices, coupled with heightened exposure in prestigious museums, grand exhibitions, and retrospectives at international venues. This newfound prominence marks a significant shift in the global art landscape, spotlighting the rich diversity and creativity emerging from India’s artistic community. The global art world is increasingly drawn to their unique perspectives, which offer fresh insights into the complexities of modern India and its global interconnectedness.
In its upcoming edition of ‘Present Future’ Contemporary Art Auction, AstaGuru will showcase an eclectic assortment of artworks by leading contemporary India artists, who have garnered global recognition. Here is a glimpse into the careers of these leading artists.
Bharti Kher: Bharti Kher’s signature style creations engage with complex themes through a unique deployment of the bindi, a traditional symbol in South Asian culture. First appearing in her work in 1995, it has since evolved into a recurring motif through which she communicates with the world. A symbol of femininity and spirituality, the bindi undergoes a transformation through Kher’s art, who references them as the third eye that women wear on their foreheads and employs them to address concepts of identity, femininity and cultural hybridity. These bindis, meticulously arranged in vibrant chromatic constellations, swarm across the surface, creating a multi-layered visual effect. In her three-decade-long career, Bharti has engaged with a wide array of materials, including fibreglass, bindis, fabric, resin, metal and mirrors. In recognition of her impact, she was awarded the title of Cultural Icon of the Year at Vogue Women in 2021. Her works are prominently featured in esteemed collections such as the Tate, London and The British Museum, among others. Her global presence is marked by exhibitions in renowned galleries across New Delhi, Mumbai, London, Paris, New York and Tokyo.
Anish Kapoor: Born in Mumbai, India, in 1954, Anish Kapoor is one of the foremost sculptors of our time. He studied art in the UK, graduating with a BFA from Hornsey College of Art and an MFA from Chelsea School of Art and Design. Best known for his awe-inspiring public installations, he also creates smaller-scale sculptures that make the pieces more intimate. Among his most well-known commissioned public installations is Cloud Gate, situated in Millenium Park in Chicago. Inspired by liquid mercury, the bean-like sculpture is made of a highly reflective surface that distorts the park itself, its viewers and the Chicago skyline. Other large-scale sculptures by Anish Kapoor include Marsyas and a recently unveiled successor to Cloud Gate in New York City.
Raqib Shaw: Born in 1974 in Calcutta, Raqib Shaw spent his childhood in Kashmir. His family relocated to New Delhi in 1992 after the political unrest in the region. The artist first began working in the family business, which dealt with exquisite objects such as selling jewellery, antiques, carpets and fabrics. While on a business trip to London in 1993, Shaw visited the National Gallery of Art. The visit had a profound impact on him and five years later, in 1998, he moved to London and started studying at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. After he graduated with a master’s degree in 2002, Shaw spent his early days as an artist showcasing his work in group exhibitions and working from a studio in Hackney Wick, London. His talents were recognised by the co-director of the Victoria Miro gallery, Glenn Scott Wright, during one of these shows. In 2004, Shaw’s first solo exhibition was held at the gallery. Titled ‘Garden of Earthly Delights,’ the exhibition presented works inspired by the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.
Nalini Malani: Born in 1946 in Karachi, Malani grew up in Kolkata, where her family had moved after India’s partition. She completed her art education at Mumbai’s Sir J.J. School of Art in 1969 and then moved to Paris on a French government scholarship. Returning to India in 1973, she began practising in Mumbai. With rising international recognition, Malani has graced numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2007 and dOCUMENTA in Kassel in 2012. In 2017, she became the first Indian artist to be showcased at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. The retrospective, titled “Nalini Malani: The Rebellion of the Dead,” emerged from a collaboration between the Centre Pompidou and Castello di Rivoli. This extensive travelling exhibition spanned five decades of Malani’s trailblazing career.
Mrinalini Mukherjee: Mrinalini Mukherjee was an influential contemporary artist born in 1949 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She was the daughter of acclaimed artist Benode Behari Mukherjee and sculptor Leela Mukherjee and was deeply influenced by them to pursue art herself. She enrolled at the Faculty of Fine Art at M.S. University, Baroda, in 1965 to study Painting. Post this, she studied mural painting under the tutelage of renowned artists such as K.G. Subramanyan, who had himself been taught by her father. She graduated with a Post-Diploma in 1970. During her time studying under Subramanyan, she inculcated his love for Indian traditional art and using indigenous influences. fibre, once viewed as a carrier and a material for typically feminine pursuits, gained meaning as sculpture in the hands of Mukherjee. This would bridge the gap between the ‘arts’ and the ‘crafts’, solidifying her stature as a sculptor par excellence instead of being viewed as a fibre artist alone. Many of her extraordinary hemp works, along with ceramic and bronze sculptures, were showcased at her first retrospective in the United States. ‘Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art was held in 2019 and presented fifty-seven works from her influential oeuvre.