The influence of pop culture on contemporary Indian art

By Ankita Talreja

New Delhi, Feb 12 : Pop culture has greatly influenced Indian art over the years and has played a major role in shaping the art of India in the present times. From Bollywood to street art, graffiti, posters, mass media, and other elements of contemporary Indian culture, the new generation of artists has incorporated elements of popular culture into their unique styles, creating works that reflect the changing attitudes and values of Indian society.

This new wave of artists is also using digital technology to create works that are both innovative and accessible, making Indian art more accessible to a wider audience. With the use of new styles, themes, and techniques, these artists have created works that are both reflective and responsive to the changing times. Here are some of the artworks reminiscent of pop culture to be showcased in AstaGuru’s ‘Present Future’ Contemporary Art Auction.

‘Anarkali and Seventy Two Idiots’ by Atul Dodiya

Titled ‘Anarkali and Seventy-Two Idiots,’ this is a quirky and humorous work by one of India’s most well-known contemporary artists, Atul Dodiya. The work, which is a set of 73 framed photographs, features portraits of many revered Indian artists with doodled moustaches, bindis, moles, and other ludic additions.

Executed between 2004-2010 with pen on archival digital prints, it was showcased in an exhibition titled ‘Laugh Lines: Humour, Wit And Satire,’ showcased at Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2011. Rendered in bold colours and often drawing inspiration from the elements of contemporary pop culture symbols, especially of Mumbai, such as the Hindi film industry, advertisement billboards and the Mumbai railway system, works by Atul Dodiya also often pay a homage to his home city of Mumbai.

Mind The Gap by Bose Krishnamachari

This mixed media on paper work by senior artist Bose Krishnamachari is titled ‘Mind The Gap’ and depicts a train station signboard amidst two portraits of legendary rockstar Bob Dylan. Bose Krishnamachari’s oeuvre comprises a motley of vivid abstract paintings, figurative drawings, sculptures, photography, multimedia installations and architecture.

Well-known for his unorthodox style, his works cannot be classified into a particular genre or artistic style. Vivid and saturated, his works are often abstract in nature and are executed in more conceptual modes of expression. This is the legacy of the brilliant artist,curator,collector — Bose Krishnamachari.

Untitled by Suryakant Lokhande

This work by artist Suryakant Lokhande showcases Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor in a scene from one of her movies. Employing a visual vocabulary that includes elements of pop art and photographic references, the artist ponders on the absurdity of the material world where life is perceived from a superficial vantage point and not a purposeful search for one’s true self.

Owing to its pop-neon colour compositions, his canvases emanate a sense of vibrancy and give a message about the present times. They become a ground for his enticing and coquettish protagonists, often women, to do away with all inhibition and stand unrestrained. Projecting confidence and autonomy, these subjects adopted from the real world are undeterred by social conventions and are liberated with a voice of their own. The untitled work was executed with high gloss oil on canvas in 2007.

Rainbows In Curved Air-study For An Installation Elysium (Cuckoonebulopolis) by Surendran Nair

This work by artist Surendran Nair belongs to an important body of work known as the Cuckoonebulopolis series. The artist began work on the series in 2000 and has since then consistently added to it. The series takes its name from the perfect utopian world between heaven and earth that was imagined by Greek playwright Aristophanes in his satire titled ‘Birds.’ The premise of the play rests on a man convincing a bird to construct a new city in the cloud called the Cloud Cuckoo Land, which translates to Cuckoonebulopis. Executed with oil on canvas in 2010, it was showcased in an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art the same year.

Back To The Beginning by Prajjwal Chowdhury

This work was executed in 2013 by artist Prajjwal Chowdhury, whose forte lies in transforming quotidian objects into mesmerising works of art. He works extensively with matchboxes, making allusions to a wide range of artists and their works, including Andy Warhol, Picasso, Damien Hirst, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Dhruva Mistry, Jitish Kallat, Subodh Gupta and Atul Dodiya. Each creation is composed of a plethora of visuals and colours, drawing the viewer to reinterpret the use and aesthetics of everyday objects. Titled ‘Back To The Beginning,’ it was executed with offset print on custom-made matchboxes

‘Hole In The Heart-2’ by Suryakant Lokhande

This vibrant work by Suryakant Lokhande is inspired by the cartoon characters of Donald Duck and the anthropomorphic chipmunk duo Chip and Dale. Executed with High gloss oil on canvas with an artist-made wooden frame, this work validates the artist’s interest in the imagery of pop culture themes that he recurrently uses in his works.

Untitled (Ed: 3/15) by Sanuj Birla

This work is a creation by artist Sanuj Birla, who is a self-taught pop artist based in New Delhi. Sanuj Birla started creating art as a young child. He eventually pursued a diploma course in design from the University of Central England. Influenced by modern and pop art, the artist creates works that are a mix of different elements of mass popular culture, such as cartoon characters, movies, superheroes, imagery of famous icons, and famous paintings by renowned artists. Characterised by its use of bright, bold colours and unconventional techniques, his figurative paintings are a collage of pop art, realism and surrealism created from fragments and components of his dreamy visions.

AstaGuru’s upcoming ‘Present Future’ Contemporary Art Auction has been finely curated to bring the best of prevalent trends in contemporary art space in India. The auction catalogue features an assortment of 125 artworks spanning mediums which include paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, as well as some vibrant examples of mixed media art. The auction is scheduled for February 15-16.

(Ankita Talreja, AVP, AstaGuru Auction House)