Issue 2

In December, 2008, we lost Manjit Bawa. In July, 2009, Tyeb Mehta passed away.

We remember Mehta with admiration and awe, the artist whose works fetched more than a million dollars yet one who never believed that he had reached anywhere near perfection. We also pay a humble tribute to Manjit Bawa who went deep into to his Indian roots, delving into mythology and soaking himself in Sufi spirituality.

The focus of this issue of Varta is Art Against Terrorism, a series of concurrent shows mounted in some of the major galleries in Kolkata. It was a joint initiative that brought artists and galleries together on a shared platform and raised socio-political questions and threw up divergent responses. We hope this endeavour will bring us more aware and thinking works of art in the near future; works that build social capital; shape ideas and information while invoking imagery and feelings with sensitivity and tolerance.

Conceptual art is creating a buzz in India even though it first emerged as far back as the 1960s in the west. Conceptual art, defined differently by different artists and art historians, leans heavily on discourses and therefore has links with many other movements of its time. It has had numerous interesting kinds of manifestations too, like The Least Wanted Paintings and The Most Wanted Paintings which were interpretations by a team of Russian artists of a professional market research survey on aesthetic preferences in art. The quest was to find out what exactly People’s Art would look like and the show was called People’s Choice.

Stefan Roemer, an eminent art historian from Germany has made a documentary On the Way to Conceptual Paradise which was screened at Goethe Institute Kolkata during a recent visit.

On his return to Germany he wrote an essay for Varta that captures the essence of his film.

Akbar Padamsee, the modern master and Partha Pratim Deb, the iconoclastic artist from Kolkata have spoken of their art practices at length and we are carrying the conversations in this issue. There are numerous art projects underway and Art Summit is round the corner. All of it will find a place in our next issue in the new year.