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March 17, 2013

Art In Tokyo

Text by Shirin Mehta.

For its sixth exhibition, Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo heads towards the west to explore the Indian contemporary art scene…

French fashion house Louis Vuitton which has been in India now for 10 years is much more than an accessories and fashion creator. The House which has been closely and particularly connected with the growth and art of travel, having created iconic trunks and fashionable luggage for royalty and the well-heeled, has always shown a deep and abiding interest and a healthy respect for art and artists, worldwide. Whether it is the spirit of an artist captured in images of cherries or in colourful graffiti or most recently in dots and spots that augment the brand’s iconic bags and motifs, Louis Vuitton has always preferred to draw inspiration and showcase these, flaunting the individual vision of the artist that it is spectacularly presenting.

It is therefore an organic extension of this sensibility that several of the large Louis Vuitton stores worldwide will also boast a space or Espace that showcases art. The themes vary, often reflecting the brand’s close association with travel and the wide vistas that are thereby uncovered. A part of this very same expansiveness is Urban Narratives, to be held until May 6th at the Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, an exhibition that travels west to explore the Indian contemporary art scene. Curated by art historian and critic Nanak Ganguly, the exhibition presents four emerging Indian artists, all active in Kolkata, an area in India, that he believes ‘has contributed enormously to the creation of a contemporary visual world’. Of the 11 pieces on show, as many as eight were newly-commissioned, further underlining the brand’s commitment to artistic endeavour and the exhibition aims to ‘take India during the moment of transition where space and time cross over to produce complex figures of differences and an identity’.

The artistic works on display here reflect the diversity in the contemporary scene that plays as much with Western codes as with Indian traditional art. The four artists displayed here, Sekhar Roy, Adip Dutta, Snehasish Maity and Piyali Sadhukhan are all ‘deeply impacted by the cultural past of their country, ranging from medieval texts and icons to a colonial heritage. While Sekhar Roy’s Skyline encourages us to rediscover the domestic indigenous space, Adip Dutta’s interest in archaeology forces us to reconstruct the gap between image and word, statement and understanding. Sadhukhan’s works discuss not only the Subcontinent’s history, but also gender roles in this part of the world. Snehasish Maity’s focus on the urban experience encourages us to reconsider the universality of the human experience’.

“The space here at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo is filled to capacity with the hierarchies that prevail, the resulting subjugations, the dogmas of prescribed thinking, the inequality of gender, the violence and resulting chaos of life in the Indian sub-continent, depravation resulted from discrimination. They are replete with visual texts retrieved from the times and spaces these artists navigated inwardly and intensely with almost indiscriminate abandon, unconfined; spewing gut-level reactions in their treatment of subjects and material, balancing between the subjective and emotive. For example art practice of representation that provides complex accounts,” says Ganguly of the works of these artists who reflect the vision of a contemporary India. A little something for art lovers in the Japanese capital to ponder over and enjoy. A large step indeed for these young artists who have been given a wondrous platform indeed!

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