The Audience and the Eavesdropper will present a selection of works by each artist to convey the strength and breadth of each individual ouevre. Together, these works depict a nuanced, complex portrait of the themes and trends emerging under the banner of “Contemporary Indian Art”. This ambitious exhibition asks, what is “Indian” in “Indian Art” and what cultural exchanges are implied in the asking? These artists work in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, video, installation and design and draw from multiple cultural and artistic histories. The vast majority of the artwork has been created specifically for this show and Phillips de Pury & Company is proud to be the first to exhibit these works.

Institutional and museum attention for Indian contemporary art has initially fallen onto the shoulders of many commercial venues to promote and exhibit this new frontier in contemporary art. This exhibition enables the introduction and exhibition of a new, exciting and highly influential group of artists from South Asia, many of whom have never shown outside the region. An exhibition catalogue will accompany this highly anticipated show.

The Audience and the Eavesdropper asks us to identify the burgeoning audience for these contemporary artworks from India and Pakistan: who is the designated audience and who is the fortuitous eavesdropper?

Furthermore, the exhibition title points to the artists’ role as cultural producers from the Indian subcontinent, but producing from an international position. Inevitably, these works grapple with the strands of postcolonial dialogue marking India’s history. As these artists initiate new dialogues in the global art community, the critical reception has been enthusiastic and promising. Says Veronica Collins, Contemporary Specialist at Phillips de Pury & Company, “These works inevitably confront ideas of globalization in the contemporary art world and look at how cultures are borrowing from each other. The title begs the question: Is it the artists who are ‘eavesdropping’ on Western developments or is it the West that is ‘eavesdropping’ on the new trends in Asia?”
A major exhibition highlight from the Indian art stars Thukral & Tagra addresses these issues through Now in your neighborhood, 2008, a pointed reference to mass cultural consumption. The collaborators Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra draw from pop culture, history and street -life in a giant Dinosaur created entirely from pink squeeze bottles stamped with custom stickers depicting “everyday people” in silhouette. The familiar bottles, at home in supermarkets and pharmacies around the world (holding toilet bowl cleaner, shampoo, dishwashing detergent, etc.) are transformed by the artists from innocuous consumer products to a moremenacing form: the seductive yet empty promises of consumerism.

Thukral and Tagra describe the work as “A new gigantic shopping experience which offers all new products in your city! From institutions to monster malls, schools to cinemaplexes, picnic parks to vinyl playgrounds in the malls, they come in all forms to rule our world. They are glamourized, restless and coming soon.” The artists then sign off tongue in cheek: “Your friendly neighborhood Dinosaur.

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