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As we embark onto the next big decade of the 21st century, we must fondly look back at the year which has been. Marked by major discussions around politics, environment, mental health and inclusivity of all people, the year 2019 has given us powerful world trends that have translated into art. These art trends demand our attention, paving the way for the many ideas to materialise as something bigger in 2020.   

  1. Starting the recap close to home at our Capital city, New Delhi kicked off the 11th edition of the Indian Art Fair from 31st Jan to 3rd February 2019. The exhibition brought contemporary modern artists from all over India and world together and started the year with stunning thought-provoking pieces! Some critic favourites by Indian artists were “You Are Within Me” by Dhananjay Singh, “Super Realistic Typewriter” by Anjaneyulu G, “Kurukshetra”, “Tapestry” by Sneha Sheth, F.N. Souza Masterpiece and G. Ravinder Reddy’s Sculptures.The international artists’ pieces that became instant favourites were “Donut Madness” by Jae Yong Kim, “Ai Weiwei Porcelain Vase” and “Fake Abstract” by Lino Lago. The India Art Fair curated a range of artworks starting from paintings and sculptures to the modern-day photography and installations, making the whole experience rich and dynamic much like the art which was encountered there.

    Fun fact, you can catch F.N. Souza’s artwork at Chennai Egmore Museum at the Gallery of Contemporary Modern Art as of early 2020. The timings are 9:30am to 4:30pm every day except on Fridays when the museum is closed.


  2. Another exhibition from New Delhi which earns a spot of its own was by artist Pushpamala N at Nature Morte where she was invited to showcase her fourth solo work from 11th Jan- 9th Feb 2019. Her work entitled “The Body Politic”was a series of photographs, sculptures and videos drawn by the artist since 1985 which comments on the issues like patriarchy, politics and religion, and so on. The artist has placed herself, the feminist body, as the witness to the society around her. It was a show of rediscovering the Indian popular images through paintings, cinema, and classic Indian dramaturgy.   


  3. Speaking of discovering and rediscovering the self in and by art, our next pick on the list did just that. This group exhibition was called “Deeper Within Its Silence: Form and Unbecoming and was held at the Devi Art Foundation from 28th Jan to 4th March 2019. Curated by Sumakshi Singh, who is also an artist herself, the exhibition explored various perspectives of the metaphysical and spiritual, and as well as of appearance and form. The artists involved were Alwar Balasubramaniam, Ayesha Sultana, AvinashVeeraraghavan, Ehsan-ul Haq, Ferwa Ibrahim, HemaliBhuta, Hetain Patel, Huria Khan, Idris Khan, Iqra Tanveer, Manish Nai, Mithu Sen, Noor Ali Chagani, RanjiniShettar, Rina Banerjee, Rohini Devasher, Sakshi Gupta, Sheela Gowda, Shreyas Karle, Unum Babar, Vivan Sundaram, and Zarina Hashmi.  


  4. Next on the list we shall move out of the closed gallery spaces and into the outdoor installations with AsthaButail’s‘In the Absence of Writing’. Butail proposed and created this project as part of BMW Art Journey Award 2017–2018 which she extended into a solo project in 2019. The project reflects her research on collective memories and living traditions informed from ZoroastrianAvesta, Jewish Oral Torah and Indian Vedic teachings. Curated by Reha Sodhi, the show is conceived as an experiential and interactive series of discoveries with sound, sculptures, videos, and installations. The outdoor exhibition was held at Gujral Foundation from 1st to 28th Feb 2019.


  5. Keeping with the theme of outdoor interactive displays, how can we forget The Lourve Optical Illusion! In lieu of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Museum’s famous glass pyramid, a French artist named Jeane Rene took on the project which he named ‘The Secret of the Great Pyramid’. He along with a team of 400 volunteers created a 17,000 sq. metre optical illusion surrounding the glass pyramid over the course of just five days! His design usedwhat he called “paper stickers” to create the artwork that made the pyramid appear as though it was submerged in a quarry of white rock. Unfortunately, the project was only displayed for one day from 30th – 31st of March as the installation was destroyed by weather and by visitors’ walking all over it.


  6. As the world woke up to the fact that our planet is increasingly becoming inhabitable by the day and came out to protest and demand attention from the governments, we saw architects and artists take a lead through their afforestation design projects! On July 10th 2019,Teamlab in partnership with Shiseido group transformed the Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore into a valley of luminous trees which displayed a range of colours duringthe nights. The trees would light up every time it sensed a human thus highlighting the relationship between people and nature.


  7. Another such project was undertaken by Austrian artist and architect Max Peintner and the Swiss curator Klaus Littmann who transformed the Wörthersee Football Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria, into a native Central European Forest. This project was titled ‘For forest – the unending attraction of nature’ and marked the country’s largest public art installation till date. The forest comprised of 300 trees, all a diverse range of species such as silver birch, alder, aspen, white willow, hornbeam, field maple and common oak. They were carefully installed on the existing pitch. The installation stayed in place from the 8th of September to the 27th of October.


  8. Perhaps a more jarring and artistic representation of Climate Change was done by Finnish artists PekkaNiittyvirta and Timo Aho who wrapped three lines of light around two structures and a road at the West Coast of Scotland symbolizing the line of submersion for when the ice caps melt and increase the sea level. The lights were placed at the structures and around the area were placed at a height of about 4 meters from the ground reminding us of the realeffects of climate change.


  9. If you are an art buff or are diving into the world of art, I’m sure you are familiar with the Dutch painter Rembrandt. He is regarded as The Dutch Golden Age painter and is famous for inventing and using high contrast light and shadow techniques in paintings. The year 2019 marked the painter’s 350th death anniversary which called for special exhibitions of the artist’s work all over Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam, The Hague and Leiden. The Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam curated a special gallery only of Rembrandt’s work, bringing all his art to one place all year round.


  10. While recapping the previous year it is only fair to end with the newly renovated Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) which was opened to the public on 21st October 2019. This newly opened extension was not only a welcome change in the design of the museum but also reflected a brand-new outlook of MoMA moving forward. 


    The extended wing called David Geffen Wing is a 950-foot-tall apartment tower with three levels of gallery space which connects with the older eastern Galleries. It was designed by Diller Scofidioand Renfroin collaboration with Gensler. By the looks of it, the design of MoMA itself is screaming art! According to Renfro, the vision was to dissolve the media divisions that had guided the curatorial position to merge up the painting and sculpture with photography, film, design, and architecture divisions. He added that with MoMA they attempted to breathe a new kind of life of possibility into its curatorial direction by connecting the old and the new galleries in a single loop while also maintaining the distinction between the two.

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