India Art Fair 2022

Amidst a relentless pandemic, across the globe, humanity witnessed an irrevocable shift in our perceptual and sensorial frameworks. The intimacy of touch turned fearful; a possibility of contagion rendered vulnerable communities permanently isolated. At this disorienting juncture, the analog became digital – a new everaccumulating interface forging social relations. How can we grasp the fabric of such shifting mediums and their human consequences? Does medium function as a passive substitute for the ‘real’, or does it alter the paradigm of our experience? Put differently, is materiality a mere metaphor or can it be pushed to imagine a new horizon?

For IAF 2022, Project 88 presents artists that explore this paradoxical terrain; aesthetic inquiries at once familiar and strange. Each work is anchored in a deliberate, conscious negotiation with materiality, both as a form and a concept. With artworks by Neha Choksi, Sandeep Mukherjee, Ashwini Bhat, Hemali Bhuta, Mahesh Baliga, and Amitesh Shrivastava, our booth exhumes an intricate relationship between myth, material, and metaphor.

For Sandeep Mukherjee, the texture of material retains the passage of time, layered with disjointed gestures that coalesce from a distance. He captures fragments of fluctuating light and shadow through static, minimal drawings which, upon a closer glance, somehow begin to move. On the other hand, both Amitesh Shrivastava and Mahesh Baliga distil painterly concerns through their own unique visual vocabulary: composing compelling narratives with careful attention to the historicity of form. Whereas Shrivastava approaches the sensorial through spectacular overflowing imagery, Baliga retreats into quotidian encounters, focusing on fragile interludes in the ordinary.

Hemali Bhuta continues her relentless probe into the dynamics of materiality and time – working closely with folds of stored packaging paper, stained and blotted with oil. Her work draws our attention to potent nuances hidden in plain sight, as mundane domestic objects open up deliberations on concepts of temporality, form, intimacy, and memory. For Ashwini Bhat, materiality evokes mythical spaces: her ceramic sculptures emerge from metaphysical concepts of female divinity – thinking through rhythmic forms, iconography, and the potential for syncretic conversations. Ultimately, Neha Choksi’s new series brings us back to the core of attachment itself: our desire to touch and connect with others. The artist looks at her lover’s fingers and her own, daubing one side of the glass with flesh toned touches and the other with shadowy greens. Glass presents both a reflective barrier and a transparent portal. The one-way mirror collapses the painted marks from both sides to reflect the onlooker back to the present.