Two Indian galleries among over 200 global participants at Art Basel 2021

The fair that returns in its physical form after its 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held from September 24-26 at Messe Basel

Two leading Indian galleries — Experimenter and Chemould Prescott Road — will be among the 272 galleries from across the world that will be exhibiting at the 2021 Art Basel edition later this month.

The fair that returns in its physical form after its 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held from September 24-26 at Messe Basel.

Mumbai-based Chemould Prescott Road is bringing to the fair works that are all inspired or provoked by the emotionally charged time that was the year 2020, and capture the individual internal struggles and conflicts that each of the six featured artists went through as they navigated through the pandemic.

“Last year, the global art world came to a sudden pause in the face of a worldwide pandemic. But not everything stopped. While some artists went silent, and some were unable to access their studios, others sat by a desk and drew every day; and some were productive like never before.

“Each artist was at their own rhythm, and at the center of various emotions, I, as a gallerist, had the urge to maintain equanimity. My efforts to balance the scale, giving counsel to both: the buoyant and the emotionally fragile come together today as we tell the story through each of our artists’ voices,” gallery director Shireen Gandhy told PTI.

While N S Harsha’s rendition of the Greek goddess Themis as a local Mysore schoolgirl, yielding a grocery bag instead of the sword attempts to amplify the voice of the countless unseen women caught in the domestic trap of contemporary society, Atul Dodiya’s set of six works that are translated onto canvas from everyday sketches drawn over the past year capture his response to the events he learned through the news during that time.

The gallery will also bring works by Anju Dodiya, Mithu Sen, Jitish Kallat, and Ritesh Meshram.

Kolkata-based Experimenter gallery’s show at the fair titled ‘The Production of Body-Spatiality’ will feature works by artists like Ayesha Sultana, Bani Abidi, Biraaj Dodiya, Praneet Soi, Prabhakar Pachpute, Radhika Khimji, Rathin Barman, Samson Young and Sakshi Gupta.

“We are excited to return to Art Basel this year in its physical form. The exhibition is rooted in ideas of the body and brings together the work of key artists from our program, all of whom are breaking ground across the world,” Priyanka Raja, co-founder of the gallery told PTI.

The exhibition approaches the representation of the body as an emotive and political tool through gesture, motif and exploration of material form.

Employing an interplay between subversion and abstraction, architectural manifestations, anthropological enquiries and artificial intelligence, it points to the human body as a device for building structures of support and resistance, the gallery said.

The two participating Indian galleries are part of a strong line-up from around Europe, as well as Asia, North and South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

The showcased works at the fair will include artworks across all media, and ranging from rare and historical masterpieces to new works by today’s emerging artistic voices.

In addition to showcasing art within its ‘Galleries’, ‘Features’, ‘Statements’, and ‘Edition’ sectors, the fair will also present 62 large-scale artworks in ‘Unlimited’, 20 site-specific projects as part of ‘Parcours’, a Film program; as well as the fair’s renowned talks series, ‘Conversations’.

“The scale and ambition of this year’s ‘Unlimited’ and ‘Parcours’ are testament to the dedication of our participating galleries. They are boldly presenting complex projects, many conceived before the pandemic, which now take on new meaning,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel in a statement.

While Art Basel is resuming function in its physical form, fair organisers have emphasised that the health and safety of its staff, exhibitors, and visitors will be of the highest priority remains, and added that the show’s design and logistics will be adapted to ensure a safe fair environment.

In compliance with the regulations set forth by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, all visitors to the fair must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, provide a recent negative COVID-19 test, or be fully recovered, the fair statement added.

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