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Objects of my Affection, With India Art Fair director Jaya Asokan

  • Lifestyle Stories
Feb 08, 2023
Jaya Asokan speaks about the India Art Fair

In this column, we speak to people from different walks of life about the objects in their homes they truly love

JAYA ASOKAN, DIRECTOR INDIA ART FAIR

“I have been in the arts for 20 years, it’s a privilege because I love it,” says Jaya Asokan.  Having worked at Saffron Art in Mumbai for seven years, then an art gallery, and now the India Art Fair, Jaya is very much entrenched in the Indian art scene. The Fair, which is from 9-12 February, gives her the unique opportunity to work across disciplines. “We have very interesting collaborations with fashion designers, textile artists and more.”

ON BUYING ART

“It is not a very profound answer—I buy what I like. It has to appeal to me visually. It’s important to me to have a connect with the artwork. I love both the masters and contemporary art and I have a balance of both at home. Although what differentiates contemporary art from art that’s gone before is that it has been made in a time of huge radical changes for us. The last 50 years in that sense have been a time of great adversity in terms of political challenges, economic instability and social change. It is very interesting because we get to see how art has responded to what is happening around us—some in happy ways, and some in the darker way but both appeal to me. The art world is becoming more inclusive and more culturally diverse than ever before, and this appeals to me. The works that are coming out now within the Indian context are truly world class.”

Jaya Asokan

Director India Art Fair, Jaya Ashokan

THE COLLECTION

Granite sculpture

Granite stone : Image courtesy, Jaya Asokan

Granite stone sculpture by CYRUS 

“He is a very young artist from Andhra Pradesh. He did his Masters from the Delhi College of Art and he works in stone. His inspiration in general is ancient Indian art and sculpture which is found in temples. I feel that you can’t take our historical and cultural background away from us and a lot of young artists are responding to that in a very interesting way. And this is a very amorphous, abstract form of something that has its history in temple architecture—his work particularly is characterized by the very wavy lines he uses. It looks so contemporary and new even though the inspiration was something so ancient. I bought it in 2022 at the last art fair. You see it as you enter our house.” 

Book sculpture by Banoo Batliboi

“I bought it for my husband’s 40th birthday around 8 years ago. Banu Batliboi is a self-taught paper artist who is passionate about creating book art and she works with old, abandoned books which have served many years in their conventional form. She focusses on the tactile and visual quality of the book, which is her very own alternative interpretation of what it could be. She basically folds each page with a lot of precision, there is no cutting or pasting—just folding of the paper and it transforms into this piece of art. This one is actually a book on law; my husband is a lawyer and I wanted to get him something that he would remember as well. I bought it just a year after our marriage. 

Book sculpture

Book sculpture : Image courtesy, Jaya Asokan

I was very entrenched in the arts, even though he does love art he doesn’t have too much of a contemporary bent. But he ended up loving it and so it has a special meaning and memory for me. I bought it directly from the artist who lives in Bombay. It’s now in our living room.”
 

Mask sculpture

Mask sculpture : Image courtesy, Jaya Asokan

Mask sculpture by Arpita Akhanda

“She is a young artist from Orissa based In Shanti Niketan and she works across mediums which include paper weaving, photography, installations and more. This series is the artist’s response to the connection of people in the past. Especially the artist’s connection to people of her own family from pre-partition Bengal. She dissects images and then weaves the paper back together with each mark suggesting the pain of partition. She weaves the warp of memory with the weft of the present situation. The central portion is the figure of a couple that was separated and the strands are the old map of Bengal. When you look at it, it could look aboriginal or tribal but it has a very specific meaning for the young artist. I thought that for being a young artist she is very evolved in her thought process. Visually, as well, I thought it looked very cool.

 

I bought this piece a year ago. The artist came to drop it off herself, it’s lovely to have that connect with the artist. She is now doing a residency in Amsterdam, and seeing their evolution is really gratifying.”

Metal mask

“I bought it from a market from Sunder Nagar 15 years ago. It has no other context—I loved it, so I bought it and mounted it. I love flea markets whether in New York or old gullies in India because you never know what you can find, be it art or jewellery.” 

Metal mask

Metal mask : Image courtesy, Jaya Asokan

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