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INDIA AWAKENS at the Essl Museum
Color Fields at the Deutsche Guggenheim
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INDIA AWAKENS
Deutsche Bank Stiftung Sponsors Exhibition Project at the Essl Museum


The Essl Museum in Klosterneuburg near Wien has become one of the most important Austrian forums for contemporary art. Exhibitions in the "emerging artists" series present the work of promising young artists every two years. The current exhibition, "INDIA AWAKENS", shows why artists from Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai are currently causing a sensation internationally.


The Essl Museum already made waves with Chalo! India, the most comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Indian art to date. The exhibition showed that India is taking new paths in video, photography and performance. It also focused on artists who had already achieved initial successes in the West – for example, Subodh Gupta, with his installations consisting of milk cans and plates. INDIA AWAKENS continues this investigation of the subcontinent’s art scene, centering on young artists. Deutsche Bank also engages with Indian art. Floors at the bank’s Frankfurt headquarters will soon be devoted to the work of Shilpa Gupta and Dayanita Singh, and the Deutsche Guggheim presented Being Singular Plural, which gives insight into the country’s film and video scene. The Deutsche Bank Stiftung is sponsoring the current show at the Essl Museum.

Curator Alka Pande selected 34 artistic positions for INDIA AWAKENS. Under the Banyan Tree. The banyan tree in the title, with its branching aerial roots, is ascribed wondrous powers. In the context of the exhibition, the tree symbolizes the country’s cultural diversity and the union of opposites. Alka Pande said: "I live in a rapidly changing India and I am also confronted with a global culture. I ask myself whether I – as an urban Indian – can be within a single country as familiar with a rural India as with a spiritual India, with an India of the ethnic tribes with its ethnic community, a digital India, a religious India. In view of such complexities and the network of ideas, traditions and philosophies I decided to work with the metaphor of the banyan tree."

With the mixture of photography, sculpture, painting, installation and performance, the show reflects India’s heterogeneous art scene. Thematic focuses include a combination of traditional and new media, a critical investigation of urbanization, gender issues and current social and societal phenomena. One of the artists featured, Tarun Chhabra, has dealt for years with the oppressive situation of street children in New Delhi. His colorful photos contrast strongly with harsh reality. Conversely, Ayesha Kapur documents the colorful world of Bollywood in classical black and white. The portraits in her series Bollywood Tinsle Town take a look behind the glamorous scenes of the Indian film industry. The New Delhi-based artist Vibha Galhotra explores issues relating to the uncontrolled growth of Indian cities. The artist composes digitally manipulated views of streets, building fronts and roofs into disturbing camouflage patterns reminiscent of military scenes. Suresh K. Nair’s giant Cosmic Butterfly alludes to the dwindling living space in burgeoning Indian cities. The artist transfers traditional wall painting to huge canvases, mixing allusions to age-old mythologies with the pictorial world of comics.

The Essl Museum is presenting INDIA AWAKENS as part of its emerging artists series, which enables a wide public to discover unknown artists. This approach prompted the Deutsche Bank Foundation to sponsor the project. The foundation also supported the show AUSTRIA contemporary, which presented current Austrian art at the Essl Museum in 2008/09.

INDIA AWAKENS. Under the Banyan Tree
26 November 2010 – 27 February 2011
Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg near Wien




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