Gallerists Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal tell us about their journey and discuss five young Indian artists on their radar
That art has come a long way in India is a question of little doubt. From having select patrons to a booming, appreciative community of art connoisseurs, artists, curators and collectors – it has slowly but surely stepped out of its niche to be embraced by a wider populace. Testament to this fact is the opening of new spaces “necessary to support a contemporary art scene including new art schools, residency spaces, Biennales, art fairs, and private foundations,” reveals Mortimer Chatterjee, one half of famed gallerist duo Chatterjee & Lal.
Started by husband and wife duo, Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal, the gallery quickly became an important name and space in the Colaba art district of Mumbai. Working with several upcoming and mid-career artists, their gallery offers a mix of subjects, materials and mediums. So how do they pick whom to showcase? “We are looking for a hunger to create art that has the power to provoke and challenge viewers,” replies Tara. With their hand spot-on the pulse of the maturing art scene in the country, we sat down with them to understand whom we should keep an eye out for in the next generation of artists. Here are their top five:
1. Priyank Gothwal | MFA Shiv Nadar University
He works and experiments with still photography, trying to understand the relation between distance, time and the individual’s perception and experience of the two. Mortimer finds his projects well-articulated and conceptually coherent.
2. Priyanka Das | MFA Painting - University of Hyderabad
Her works are almost auto-biographical in nature, exploring the realm of bodies in spaces and highlighting her own turmoil through art. “Throughout her work, the viewer has a sense of the body’s fragility. Her detailed drawings reveal real talent,” explains Tara.
3. Shreya Shukla | Pursuing MVA in painting MS University Baroda
She explores the transient nature of human bodies through her work while also focussing on sexuality. For Mortimer, “her painterly temperament extends to a fascination of the morbid, informed by her extraordinary paintings of corpses.”
4. Aqui Thami | Pursuing a PhD in social work from TISS, Mumbai
Her works have been affected by and largely aims to influence children and women in Dharavi. Her work also centres around political and social issues. Tara picked her for her ground-breaking work with zines in India.
5. Khursheed Ahmad | Pursuing MVA in Ambedkar University, Delhi
He dabbles in several disciplines and mediums including performance art, drawing, sounds and photography. According to Mortimer, he is also one of the most interesting performance artists active at present.
Mortimer and Tara work with a range of artists who dabble in various subject, media and materials.
Currently on show at Chatterjee & Lal is IMPACT: design thinking and the visual arts in young India, which highlights ideas and practices that have had a direct influence on art in India.
Aqui Thami aims to influence the lives of the children and women who stay in Dharavi through her work.
Aqui’s work is largely centred around political and social issues.
This young artist from Kashmir dabbles in various formats ranging from performance art and drawing to sound and photography.
According to Mortimer, Khursheed is one of the most interesting performance artists active at present.
The husband wife duo of Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal opened their gallery space, Chatterjee & Lal in 2003. Today, theirs is one of the defining voices in the Indian art scene.
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