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Indian artists at the Shanghai Contemporary, a major art fair

The just concluded Shanghai art fair, a significant art show in China, proved to be a perfect platform for several Indian artists to reach out to a wider audience.

The Shanghai art fair, which gave him an opportunity to showcase their works, serves as a unique platform for bringing together the best artists, collectors and art enthusiasts across the globe. Its objective is to develop and stimulate existing and emerging art trends, allowing meaningful interaction and exchange between artists, critics and art lovers. The fair comprises three broad sections, namely 'Best Galleries', 'Best Artists' and 'Best of Discovery'.

Among the Indian artists whose works were on display included Atul Dodiya, NS Harsha, Zarina Hashmi, Ravikumar Kashi, Sudarshan Shetty, New York based Rina Banerjee, Jitish Kallat, Tushar Joag, Bharti Kher, Surendran Nair, Hema Upadhyay, Jagannath Panda, Valay Shende, Anant Joshi and Mithu Sen.

Collectively drawn from a younger generation of artists represented by various Indian galleries, their work was a representative of a new, dynamic art practice, with themes and ideas - emblematic of the changing culture in urban India. Valay Shende, who primarily creates video works and sculptural installations demonstrate a technical deftness combined with a subtle attempt to question the maladies afflicting urban society and people today.

Mithu Sen works in a wide variety of media, from painting and drawing, sculpture, collage and installation, usually combining one or more together. She combines imagery from a wide variety of sources, cultures and economic levels. There is sensitivity in the works of artist Hema Upadhyay. Most of her works are related to the space she is in. Her paintings refer often to 'home', not as a place of security, but to address a sense of dislocation. Dislocation is a worldwide condition although the artist uses Indian references.

Shilpa Gupta presented an arty play of shadows of unseen hopes, desires and fear, in a world that needs to deal with the confrontation of civilizations and beliefs that can no longer remain too far apart, as the world is becoming increasingly fragile, where new political lines are being drawn across cultures and histories. Shadows embody a metaphor of illusion and blurred perception created over convenient distances, negotiated via media (computer, in this project) so simultaneously hyper authentic and suspicious.

Jitish kallat presented a work, drawing from his series Rickshawpolis. Constructed of fiberglass, the works fashions a morph between a rickshaw and a bony, stripped-down skeleton in simulation of an extinct species. The work is a life size recreation of an auto-rickshaw, through 'simulated bones' as if it were the re-structured remains of a pre-historic species and displayed in a natural history museum. The work presents 'the results of daily traffic jams, rendered as a victim, shattered in the cross-fire of a sectarian riot; or the abandoned carcass of a discarded automobile in the fast-changing Indian streetscape.

Ravikumar Kashi mounted there his unconventional paper sculptures. He took over almost a year to conceptualize and finish the works 'City without end' and 'Any moment now'. The artist collects captivating photo images, clippings quotations ' such diverse text and visual based references, which become a source point for him. Most of his imagery is drawn from this self-created archive. Filtering of the same through a secondary source constructs a 'secondary reality'.

NS Harsha presented a room-size installation of sewing machines. It was titled 'Nations'. On other hand, a series of watercolours by Atul Dodiya, titled 'Pale Ancestors' and Ravinder Reddy's classic, smiling women's head were also on display.

Zarina Hashmi's sensitive cast paper works 'Homemade/A Life in Nine Lines' was her series of minimalist designs based on housing blueprints. It was stripped to resemble a series of esoteric symbols. Artist Sharmila Samant recreated a traditional Kolkata saree from countless soda bottle caps fastened by hand. It's a commentary on cheap labor, local crafts and disposable culture.

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