- Arun Kumar HG
- Anju Kaushik
- Kanchan Chander.
- Haribaabu Naatesan
- Plastic-vala Aka Manveer Singh Gautam
- Ritu Kamat
- Ruchika Wason Singh
- Sandeep Biswas
- Satish Sharma
- Shovin Bhattacharjee
- Shubhra Chaturvedi
- Vandana Performance Artist
The Desee Art team is headed by Founder Pulkit Somani. This project is curated by Georgina Maddox an independent Curatorial Consultant. They are assisted by team of Malvika Jha (Junior Curator & Artist manager), Srabasti Halder (Researcher and Content Writer), Tavishi Rai (Digital Marketing Manager), Prarabdh Sharma (NFT SME), Aashti Kazmi (Graphic Designer) Vishu Bhardwaj (Website Development
Art without purpose is a sad attempt at beautification. Art needs to be political, revolutionary, it needs to be a criticism, a commentary, at the very least reflective. With that intention and aspiration, we are hoping to curate an exhibition which will bring together an ensemble of artists who are determined to be a part of environmental change and present a path towards sustainability.
It is perhaps the first time that so many variant factors come together. On one hand we have the unification of technology and art in a virtual space, whereas on the other art and artists can play a major role in sustainability—not just on a conceptual level but also in the physicality of the materials and methods employed. We see this in the artworks and the manner in which many of the artists have worked on them.
Desee Art and its team are mounting the show in a non-white cube, experimental space of an auditorium that uses natural light, air and settings with a low carbon imprint and environmentally positive coverage for the artwork. Also employed is an art café and the revitalizing of an entire space that reaches back to the pre-globalization era.
Paul O’Brien in his article “Art, Politics, Environment” writes, “If the dominant political issue in the twentieth century was the conflict between market and state, there is little doubt that this has been supplanted in the twenty-first century by environmental issues, most notably that of global warming.” He further writes, “I believe that what we will see a new paradigm based on the notion of participation, in which art will begin to redefine itself in terms of social relatedness and ecological healing, so that artists will gravitate toward different activities, attitudes and roles than those that operated under the aesthetics of modernism”. These statements resound in our intent with this exhibition since we have not only lived through a horrific Pandemic but also continue to survive each day in this new “normal”.
One must acknowledge the intensity of climate change and our roles within this context. It is a state of emergency and over the years eco art won’t be on the sidelines of the art-world but at the very forefront. It is an inevitable journey and we hope to be a part of this endeavour. The artists are dynamic and belong to diverse backgrounds and bring their own experiences and concerns to the table. The artworks will be in conversation with each other in more than one way since the foundation of each of their concerns are rooted in the same global matter of environmental sustainability.
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: – the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and – the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.
In 2015, the United Nations drew up a set of 17 global goals to combat poverty, inequality, environmental destruction, and more by 2030. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) representing international collaboration unparalleled in human history – are now adopted by 193 countries.
The 17 SDGs are focused on a wide variety of topics, few of which are: Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water and Life on Land.
This list is something that has been published and discussed internationally and while some of it sounds like a wish-list that is very idealistic, a lot of it is actually absolutely necessary for the survival of our species and the survival of the planet. This art exhibition hopes to give a platform to address issues around the SDG and other important issues arising from the contemplation and practice of an approach that is friendly to our environment and our world.
We are incorporating NFTs as an element of this exhibition.
As the hype around NFTs and actual digital ownership continue to bubble in 2022, high gas fees on Ethereum and environmental factors concerning the creation of NFTs rage on. We, at Desee Art, are leveraging a blockchain to come out with environment focused, environmentally sustainable NFTs. This is Desee Art’s initiative and hope towards a better future, for which we hope to constantly aim for better and deliver. Art, after all, is a revolution.
Arun Kumar H.G.
Arun Kumar HG has an interesting story to tell. It is unique and is bound to pique your curiosity into how the journey of an artist looks like. He has worked for a while in the toy industry and thus his experience of sculpting borrows from there. The idea that largely marks his work is finding a sense of complexity in simplicity. It sounds like a juxtaposition but most of his worldview has been shaped by looking at the simple world of children’s toys. However, the meaning that the work carries does not necessarily have to be simple. That kind of a perception is especially foregrounded in his works which talk about sustainability as well. Even though he is an artist based in Gurgaon, he makes sufficient time to go back to his native village where he collaborates with other environmental activists regarding the aspect of sustainability. It is a topic that holds much significance to him and an installation like ‘Plastic Drop’ brilliantly captures that emotion. The work is simple, not simplistic. To reiterate, even that one ignored bottle cap which we chuck into the bin is creating an enormous impact on the environment. And in moments like these we go back to old sayings which say that each drop contributes to the making of a sea. These bottle caps are like bullets, if you were to take a visual path of imagination: small yet destructive.
The transformation of the quotidian to the aesthetic, of waste and junk to an object that is collectible and possesses a sense of raw urban beauty is what artist Anju Kaushik is known for achieving in her art works that are culled out what is usually termed as ‘waste materials’. Her new works tend tends toward the sculpturesque, with a preference for high-relief surfaces and recently she has been moving towards completely embracing the third dimension. She prefers working with discarded objects, transforming them by embedding them with plaster of Paris, concrete and wood. The act of reclaiming old, rusted and discarded objects and giving them new life is particular to Anju’s practice and ties up with the contemporary act of ‘recycling’ that which is discarded in a society known for its ‘use and throw away’ behaviour. The objects challenge the idea of what is rejected elevating the object from what may appear to be part of a ‘mundane existence’.
Anju’s relationship with the objects is driven by intuition to reinvent the object, it is also an act of coincidence and sometimes not an entirely conscious alignment. Her works are often connected into a loose narrative, where she makes a commentary on the environment, where a fossilized fish shape is a poignant reminder of urban detritus and waste, or a mechanical object pervades over the natural landscape. A hunk of concrete is pedestalized, brushed with paint, nails, wire and placed upon a concrete bracket creating a new relationship between the disparate articles of waste.
Working primarily with scrap material, junk and recycled metal artist Haribaabu Naatesan has been passionate about recreating art through what is often thought of as waste. He sees sculptures in metal scraps, he conjures up art forms from discarded computer hardware, he draws inspiration from electronic junk. The result is art that has a multipronged usage, it can grace a drawing room or garden, but not a junkyard.
An alumina of the Chennai School of Fine Arts, and the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, (NID), Natesan brings his sense of design to his artwork while creating work that is evocative of both the garage and the workroom but he transforms it into an aesthetic experience that evokes several levels of experience which is a raw urban beauty coming together with the colourful palette from his home town Tamil Nadu. The Bazaar is as much part of his art as is the fine art studio and one gets a sense of this multiplicity of cultural expression with his bright yellows and shocking greens that sometimes veer into subtle greys and pinks.
Kanchan Chander –
Kanchan Chander’s work is a layered perspective of sustainability through the lens of eco-feminism which could be considered a sub-genre of eco-art. Feminists have claimed their bodies and identities through generations in order to represent the issues which go beyond the general perception and intersect at a point of gendered interlapping. Kanchan Chander uses her feminist sensibilities which arise from a personal space of thought as she introduces her piece, ‘Torso and Tree’. The female torso has been her interest for the past 3 decades or so. She juxtaposed this very torso, which seems to be her own, against a foliage of trees which were a part of her daily routine during her morning walks in the park. This ‘self’ which walks in the park and is free to express her relationship with nature is what comes through in ‘Torso and Tree’. Chander believes that the female torso holds a lot of power and beauty for what it represents universally and thus it has become an element of close introspection for her. On the other hand, in her etched print ‘Adiparashakti’, the trees are open to interpretation by the viewer, either as something tranquil, serene or even a void. These several representations of nature in contrast to her association with the female torso could open up several conversations about how even the concept of sustainability is inevitably connected to gender and sexuality.
Plasticvalla A.K.A. Manveer Singh Gautam
Plasticvalla is a name that was derived from their cultural association of one’s occupation with their name. Although that concept is also deeply rooted in the perception of caste, Manveer adopted this name from the residents of the neighbourhood where he collects ‘hard to recycle’ plastic. After a long-drawn process of this collection in the Habit Changer Boxes and cleaning each of the pieces, Manveer begins to put them together for his sculptures and installations. With every piece that he creates, he hopes for his medium to define his work and his identity as an artist. This medium is not simply a representation of the climate crisis caused due to the ignorant dumping of plastics but at the same time, it is all the plastic that Manveer is saving from going to the large dump yards.
Futuristic Earthcore is an experimental piece of work for the artist. It was created by using discarded plastics, metal, terracotta, mirror and wood. The reverse pyramid-shaped structure represents the core of the Earth with its layer and perhaps a dystopian foreseeable future as to what the reality of this structure could be like. The layer of drought-like soil above represents what the land might look like in case of a permanent drought since rainwater would not seep into Earth due to the excessive plastic.
‘Banjar’ is a similar piece which calls at the large mound at Ghazipur also infamously known as ‘Ghazipur Hill’ owing to its magnanimous size.
As one opens Sandeep Biswas’ website, a rather disconcerting image greets you. For some, it may even trigger trypophobia. But at the same time, the image provokes you to ponder over one thought: Art is not supposed to be pleasant to the eyes or beautiful or even to anyone’s taste. It just perhaps has to ‘be’. These are the initial thoughts of a viewer.
The medium of photography is still and patient. It freezes us in a moment of contemplation.
Biswas’ works are deeply reflective and through his monochromatic lens, pushes us into a deep reverie wherein we pause to understand what ‘sustainibility’ means to us. The photographs being devoid of colour are thus intentional and speak volumes through his simple approach.
In the context of sustainability, Biswas’ spaces which feel real yet far apart from the sense of the tangible world are meant to contain one in the stream of thought which would eventually lead to sustainability as an individual exercise. Thus, this medium in itself is bound by intention. Although the medium defines artists, in some scenarios, they liberate them too.
Ritu Kamath’s art work Circadian Rhythm represents the chronobiology of nature. The work is a polyhedron with three intricately painted surfaces representing the sky, earth and water. The surfaces meet at the apex indicating how the three are inter-related. The ticking clocks on the painted surfaces attract the viewer, reminding them that the process of life – whether plant, animal or human – is an ongoing one and can last only if it is a sustainable one.
A multidisciplinary artist, Ritu’s art transcends beyond the immediate and the personal to the level of the eternal and the universal. The Noida-based artist recently has been creating work that pays an ode to mother Nature in many of her recent works and has been looking at how the error of mankind has led to degradation and endangerment of nature. Her works are precise, intricate, reflecting an experienced hand and she uses various linear techniques like stippling, fine detailing by building up the dots. Her intricate work, painstakingly drawn with microscopic detailing, reflects her patience and concentration.
Satish has been painting for two decades, he has traversed the gamut of figurative works that recall the passionate impasto, musings of Vincent Van Gogh, moving on toward abstraction which celebrates pure colour and texture. His canvases evoke a three-dimensionality and form that celebrates earth shades like a deep madder red, the aquamarine of seashore blues, solemn slate greys, and the darkened shades of a black night. Besides evoking the aesthetics of abstraction Satish also has the predilection of reclaiming and recycling waste materials that he uses to evoke the textures and evocation of the earth, its unprocessed and un-tamed curst, its warmth and its fecundity and in some cases its sublimity and the reverential interpretation of the blackness of night, the freeing sensation of the endlessness of the azure sky. His emotions towards nature are deeply associated with colour and texture of his canvases and their abstract earthy hues.
Playing upon a variety of textures and forms the works traverse from sensuous to the subtle, using various unsuspecting objects to create these textures, he has now begun to work directly on the canvas with his hands, creating a mixture of expressions that are perhaps less conscious or controlled. While he has abandoned recognizable forms in favour of pure abstraction, the recent set of works do indicate a heft and volume. The painting transitions its source becoming a being in and of itself Satish has also been moving more towards monochromatic expressions with a preference for brighter colours.
A woman who has proudly donned the mantle of an Andolan-jeevi, an activist who uses her art as a form of protest. The personal is political as the feminists have already discoursed; the personal hurt too, therefore, is political. When Shubhra terms herself as an artist, she also highlights the point that her works rise from a personal space of hurt. In this instance it was the Farmer’s Protest in Delhi NCR region which set a historical marker in India’s history. The entire experience of being a spectator, watching the horrific treatment of the farmers unfold, pushed her to create works which would be closely associated with the mediums of nature that the farmers are close to. Besides, the Indian society is extremely dependent on the farming sector, thus, unlawful biases against them shook the entire nation, much as they did Shubhra’s consciousness as well.
Her work is largely focused on the element of effect within the space of politics. Thus, sensitivity and nuance are all thoroughly placed in each of her sculptures. She is also aware that her work being ‘protest art’ might make people reluctant to having it displayed in gallery and home spaces. Yet her conviction is so very strong that it pulled her towards this very discourse in a way which is vocal and consistent in its approach.
Hailing from the ‘Abode of Clouds’, Shillong, artist Shovin Bhattarjee (b-1976) had a bit of a ‘culture shock’ when he moved to New Delhi in the early 2005, to settle in the metropolis. However, over time he adapted to the city and chose the metaphor of the sky-scraper as seen from a birds-eye-view, became a recurring motif in his artwork, and now one associates it with his artistic lexicon. He often organizes these cuboid structures in a spherical shape, that then becomes a metaphor for the world, since he plays with in the dark prophecy that the world would soon be covered by buildings and much of nature would disappear. He does however hope, like the family of birds that built a nest at the top of one of his large outdoor sculptures, hat ‘nature finds a way to co-exist’, with this metallic and concrete world.
Interestingly he also his self-portrait, within his compositions. Often find that many of his viewers and patrons actually look for his self-portrait within his work, whether it is his sculptural-installations or his paintings and digital NFT work, he finds it important to be present in his work. Arguably the artist is always a part of their art but using the self has now become his chosen ‘metaphor’, for it is not just symbolic of himself but it also represents the ‘other’. The Common Man, who can connect immediately to his work and his situation where he engages with his surroundings to discover the mystery of life,” says the artist philosophically.
Vandana, Performance Artist
Vandana is a petite, but strong and articulate Indian artiste. Interestingly the young artist has dropped her surname, as an artistic gesture against any discrimination based on caste and social background. Vandana currently resides in Gurgaon/Gurugram but originally, she hails from the small town of Bhiwani in Haryana. Her restlessness and thirst for knowledge led her to Mumbai where she did a diploma in Fine Arts. She opted to learn three languages too — Hindi, Sanskrit and English. She is proficient in mix media works, photography, sculptures, and her first “performances”. It was during this course that she met a Swiss director who invited her for a Residency in Switzerland, where she found herself becoming more and more inclined to the magic of “performance art”.
The live performance, Calling from the DARK, is a call from a space where our universe came into existence with a big bang, a space which is also known as the black hole, on another level, it is a space of dark aspect of human existence from perspective of the current environmental threat to the planet and the future generations. Banging on the gong is a way to awaken the human species from its sleep of reason into an age of awareness. Her work Calling from the DARK is especially geared towards an awakening to the environment, climate change and the endangered wildlife. Invoking the sounds of the gongs is an effort by the artist to remind as well as to make the audience remember to take action on saving the planet. The belief in the gong, a gamelan percussion and sound instrument, are rooted in Javanese and South Asian history and spiritualism with the tendency to syncretize aspects of different religions in search for a common ground. The rhythmic and non-rhythmic sounds coming out of the gong is NOT to please the audience but to put them in an uncomfortable state to make them remember the overall purpose of the show and their presence.
She completed her MFA in Fine Art from London, UK, after attending Rachana Sansad Academy of Fine Arts & Craft for three years in Mumbai, and achieving a Master’s degree in English from New Delhi following her Bachelor’s degree from Haryana, India. She has exhibited her work in India (Including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata), United Kingdom (including London), Switzerland, South Korea, Thailand (Bangkok Art Biennale 2018) and Italy (Venice).