Indian origin artist goes to Venice Biennale

The Islands Have Shifted A work by Nandita Chaudhuri at the Venice Biennale

New Delhi: India-born London-based artist Nandita Chaudhuri has captured the horrors of the Japan tsunami and the psychological drift it has triggered among the millions of survivors on her canvas at the Venice Biennale 2011 this month.Chaudhuri is the only Indian to be directly selected by Venice biennale organisers as part of its international representation though India is an official entrant at the event. She will be represented by Studio ArTe Carapostol.

Her art work, “The Islands Have Shifted”, will be on display at the Scoletta of San Giovanni Battista as part of the biennale in the historic Italian town from June 4-Nov 27.

“When the islands shifted by a few inches during the Japan tragedy, I began to reflect on the fragility of the set coordinates. My new work, ‘The Islands Have Shifted’ have been inspired by the fragility of human and land mass when confronted by forces beyond control,” she said.

And just like the islands, which have been shifted by the once calm waters, so are human bastions; once gravitating and once repelling till the coordinates are finally set, Chaudhuri said of her work.

“In this series, I have used paint on canvas,” Chaudhuri said.

Chaudhuri is one of the biennale’s international group of artists from emerging nations whom the Venetian showcase promotes every year to lend voice to new talent from the developing world. She will exhibit with artists from 53 countries.

“I was invited to participate at the pre-biennale show in Venice (held in May) at first and then through further shortlisting was invited to show in Venice during the biennale,” Chaudhuri said.

The artist, who brings British and Indian influences on her canvas to hammer a trans-national idiom, said “globalisation and technological revolution have brought in their wake rapid change, mixed influences and re-definitions”.

“I recently wrote a lengthy paper on the face of this evolution from the standpoint of localisation and the impact and how this was perceived or received by the West. Most certainly, there are points of intersection or cohesion and at other times noise,” she said.

There is always that endeavour to examine loss of national identity or purity against the backdrop of globalization, she said.

“Indian contemporary art for its own sake is receiving substantial global attention largely due to market dynamics and for its equity,” she said.

The artist said, “Whether it was Indian contemporary art, Chinese, African or Brazilian art, there are always indigenous and historical references set alongside the present- day social and political climate and period”.

“References to our historical data creep back into works, traditional iconology, preference for warmer colours, and a certain metaphor,” Chaudhuri said.

“There is often even some anxiety and noise. Discussions on integrity in art can only expand or touch on levels of mixed data. The technological revolution brings on its heel an onslaught of varied influences and a bombardment of information which has posed its own issues. A new language emerges, with a unique emerging hybrid made up of historical data and new data,” she said.

Chaudhuri holds an endorsement from the Royal Academy of Arts, London, which described her works as being trans-national with an exceptional confluence of British and Indian influences. One of her life-size installations, “Boogie Woo” at London’s biggest public art auction in history, “The Elephant Parade”, stood at Soho Square for three months.

India is an official entry at the Venice Biennale this year with an exhibition featuring four artists. By Madhusree Chatterjee