Why The Irregulars Art Fair 2019 Is The Anti-Art Fair You Need To Be At
Leaving behind the confines of refined art galleries and the clinking of delicate champagne flutes, an anti-art fair by the name of The Irregulars Art Fair (TIRAF) is working towards creating a platform for lesser-known artists. Was it a deliberate decision then on the part of TIRAF founders Tarini Sethi and Anant Ahuja to hold it at the same time as India Art Fair? Now in its 11th year, the India Art Fair brings together renowned artists, galleries, private foundations, charities and national institutions whereas the second edition of TIRAF aims to subvert the very concept of art being an elitist affair. Labelling itself an ‘anti-art fair for independent artists’, the fair seeks to present new and undiscovered artists in spaces that were not originally created for art exhibitions and to showcase their work in ways and forms that were not conventionally meant for displaying. At TIRAF, art sheds its pretentious persona and saunters into the realm of the delightfully bizarre. Bringing together artists who dabble in various genres of art and culture like installations, posters, films and documentary photographs, the fair challenges the traditional cultural landscape of the art market.
Revolving around the theme of alternate realities, the second edition of TIRAF is set to take place at Studio Khirki, situated in Khirki Extension, opposite Select Citywalk, New Delhi. Around 130 artists are set to present their works at the fair so we asked independent art advisor and creative consultant Abhinit Khanna for his picks of the artists to watch out for:
Who: Currently Leh’s only artist-run studio space, Farside Collective’s works primarily revolve around contemporary arts, graphic design, photography, films, exhibitions, talks, screenings and publication of art books. Although they are woke enough to be influenced by politics, culture and social patterns, they also know how to appreciate the little things in life. Their website bio, for instance, mentions that you should call them before dropping in at their studio in Sankar as they might have gone to fetch fresh Kashmiri breads and paneer. Paints a quaint little picture, doesn’t it?
Abhinit’s take: They are working on an installation at Studio Khirki and it will be exciting to see what they bring to The Irregulars Art Fair this year. Check out their book collection and curated list of independent zines before you head to the fair.
Who: An artist and designer based in the Goan town of Mapusa, Praveen considers his work to be a statement against the information overload that has come to disrupt and dominate every aspect of our lives. Through his minimal style of expression and an evident predilection for rich colours, he brings to the fore that which is essential, without compromising on the originality of the subject. His recent works also seem to be the by-products of nostalgia; a ten-part illustrative series captures sunsets from various beaches of Goa and another one presents a visual essay of certain elements from his life in Gurgaon before he moved to Goa.
Abhinit’s take: I came across Praveen’s work in the December issue of a research journal on how artificial intelligence could impact and influence the future of healthcare. I think he has a fresh approach to Indian design and is able to showcase data aesthetically. Gearing up to participate in the poster show at TIRAF, his work will be a mix of nostalgia and futuristic cities.
Who: Tanya Eden claims to enjoy adventure sports, being around animals, bingeing on television series and travelling and the themes of her illustrations are as varied as her hobbies. The Indian illustrator focuses her art on relevant subjects like internet culture or social causes and works towards greater representation in certain fields of art. As someone who believes that artists and illustrators have a third eye that allows them to absorb things differently than a regular person would, Tanya is striving towards portraying her vision globally.
Abhinit’s take: As part of the poster show, Tanya will be designing a special poster titled ‘My virtual lover’ which looks at a millennial girl who has no physical contact with the world outside. A slave to her own bubble, she embarks on a paranoia-fuelled quest to find the perfect partner.
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Who: UBIK was called Vivek Premachandran at birth, but he assumed the new moniker when he realised that people grew to expect a certain Indianness from his work because of his name. UBIK fit well — it is short for ubiquitous besides being the title of an acclaimed sci-fi novel. UBIK’s interests lie in the organisation of the human world, the interplay between cultural production and its commodification, and the viewer’s relation to art. His art usually juxtaposes absurdity with reason and chaos with order.
Abhinit’s take: I love that UBIK’s work is conceptual and filled with sardonic humour. More importantly, it highlights themes of propaganda, censorship, and repression which is an important exercise in present times. Look out for his eye-popping GIFs and video art at TIRAF’s poster show at AGENC.
Who: An abstract artist whose works depict a rural lifestyle with heavy use of symbolism, Anil employs the use of acrylics, oil and mixed media to create works that are very earthy and pleasant to look at. When he did his MFA from Delhi’s College of Arts in 2011, everyone was doing figurative art. As one of the only artists from his batch to veer towards the abstract form, it has now become something that he is unable to distance himself from. He claims that it is impossible for him to look at any form without breaking it up into fragments. Anil, who will be showing his paintings at Studio Khirki, is well versed with the Puranas, Kahlil Gibran, Rabindra Nath Tagore and Premchand and likes to introduce evocative elements into his canvases.
Abhinit’s take: Anil is one of India’s finest abstractionist artists and references social values in society through the dictums of India’s villages. Familiarise yourself with his paintings which are often two-toned with elements of soil and modules of minerals.
Who: Savyasachi’s interest in film began with photography and progressed on to cinematography, sound design, editing, directing, scripting and production. Thereafter, he plunged into the world of global cinema and started collecting the films of directors that piqued his interest. His graduation project Miilelam Miiyoh evolved from a month-long process of living and engaging with the Yimchunger community deep in the forests of Fakim in Nagaland, and the filmmaker claims that it was a humbling experience that changed his perspective on life. He now plans to explore the possibilities of documentaries and actuality-based films as an art form and will be taking part in the film room at TIRAF.
Abhinit’s take: Savyasachi has been a part of various film shoots and has grown his area of understanding both technically and conceptually. Engaging with the Yimchunger community deep in forests of Fakim in Nagaland for over a month has sensitised him to the realities of rural life and it will be interesting to see him bring his vision to the art fair.
Who: Delhi-based illustrator and collage artist’s Instagram account is replete with ink and pencil drawings, collages and photographs, all of which are inspired by cinema, old encyclopaedias and supernatural phenomena. She also makes illustrations and murals and often finds her humour trespassing the confines of her mind and spilling onto the comics that she makes.
Abhinit’s take: Vartika’s film photography and collages based around her friends are delightful to look at. Her recent project Small Book of Small Collages is a collection of found objects, abstract patterns, body, colour and memory.
Who: Specialising in various forms of art like illustration, graphic design, space design and typography, Ishaan Bharat, who goes by the name Osheen, reveals that he has never really been able to stick to one medium because boredom always gets the better of him. His work usually tends to fall under one of three branches — social like The Link Project he did around typography with Kannada, commercial like the branding and graphic design work he does as the visual art director at Nappa Dori and illustrative art that is inspired by his travels and the archives of objects he collects on his trips. Ishaan, who also has a penchant for performance art, will be presenting his work at the poster show at AGENC.
Abhinit’s take: The versatility of Ishaan’s work is what makes him such a gifted artist. I am especially appreciative of the crisp black and white illustrations that he does for books and magazines. His interest in performance art which explores fluidity and sexuality has opened his mind up to greater artistic avenues.
Who: An Indian photographer who shuttles between New York and New Delhi, Akshay’s work toes the line between factual documentation and artistic visual interpretation, focusing on the exploration of loss and trauma in different circumstances and communities. His project for American Sufi Project captured asylum seekers in Europe as they found themselves torn from home and in exile in a land that denied them the recognition of ideas and values they grew up around. Photographed in blue light and torn into collages inspired by the geographies of the subjects’ journey, the work perfectly demonstrates the state of limbo the immigrants often find themselves in.
Abhinit’s take: Akshay’s interest in the visual study of trauma, migration and memory comes at a time when these topics are dominating the global conversation. Look out for his documentary photographs as well as his personal monochrome work at TIRAF.
Who: A self-taught designer and visual artist based out of Bangalore, Vimal Kandoth works at the intersection of design and technology creating digital artworks that are influenced by music and street art. His posters are very satisfying to look at with kaleidoscopic patterns often taking centre stage. Some of his designs also employ the use of optical illusion to seem almost hallucinatory in nature but we were most taken by his Glitch project which is an artistic rendition of a malfunction in a very psychedelic matrix. He has been commissioned to show his work at the poster design section at TIRAF.
Abhinit’s take: It’s fascinating to see how Vimal takes common words like air, liquid and fragile as well as distinctive words like petrichor and kintsugi and processes them through his own sense of aesthetic.
The Irregulars Art Fair will take place from 31st January to 5th February at Studio Khirki, situated in Khirki Extension, opposite Select Citywalk, New Delhi