TOP 5 Artists shaping the narrative of contemporary arts in India

 TOP 5 Artists shaping the narrative of contemporary arts in India

Pic for representational purpose only

Ankita Talreja

A fusion of traditional techniques, cultural influences and modern styles, the space of contemporary Indian art is teeming with a constant influx of ideas undertaken by the artists of the present times. Reflecting on their unique perspectives and experiences, shaped by their cultural heritage and the political, social, and economic realities of the country, these artists render their creations a distinct appeal and continue to expand the horizons of their artistic expression by engaging in a range of different mediums paintings, sculptures, and installations to contemporary digital media and performance art. At the same time, their approach to unconventional materials has also led to a dynamic and vibrant form of expression that has intrigued audiences and critics around the world. Here are the top five contemporary artists of India:

Raqib Shaw
Highly praised for his flamboyant and labour-intensive art practice, Raqib Shaw has carved a position as one of the important Asian artists in contemporary times. In a unique synthesis of Indian miniature and the ethos of western classical art, the opulent works by Raqib Shaw depict cross-cultural fantastical worlds drawn from his multifarious influences, ranging from mythology and religion to poetry, literature, art history, textiles and decorative arts, from both eastern and western traditions. Set amidst idyllic skies and classical ruins, these paradisiacal images are inhabited by beastly anthropomorphic creatures engaged in animated scenes suffused with hedonism, violence and debauchery. The artist creates these works with a deft tackling of varied mediums, including metallic enamel paints, gems, glitter and rhinestone. In the past two decades, his creations have been the subject of several important solo exhibitions across the world.

Raqib Shaw


Bharti Kher
Bharti Kher’s works are heterogeneous; it delves into minimalism, abstraction, and mythology and has a strong expression in the form of narration. After first appearing in her work during the mid-90s, bindis have become a recurrent motif in Bharti Kher’s spectacular oeuvre. She creates these grand canvases through a meticulous layering process of placing bindis on the surface. Commonly adorned on foreheads by women in India, bindis are also symbolic of the third eye for the artist. They swarm over her grand canvases, created with a meticulous layering process, and endow them with a cryptic second skin. In vivid chromatic formations, they are arranged to create ‘paintings’ with abstract patterns that reference the Western art historical tradition yet resemble biological structures and appear fundamental, like a close-up view of cellular life. With a remarkable body of work spanning genres, including installations and sculptures, Bharti Kher has made an indelible mark on the contemporary art world.

Bharti Kher

Subodh Gupta
An iconic figure of contemporary Indian art, Subodh Gupta is known globally for his radical and bold works. While his installations are the most sought-after, his body of work includes painting, sculpting, and other multimedia practices. He is revered for his ability to transform the mundanity of ubiquitous, everyday objects into stellar works of art. Originally trained as a painter, Subodh Gupta has worked in a range of mediums. His majestic installations and sculptural works are executed utilising everyday objects, including stainless steel tiffin boxes, bicycles and milk pails, that one can commonly spot in any Indian household. The childhood experience of watching his mother cook in such vessels inspired him to adopt them as a recurring material in his art practice. A recognisable signature style in the artist’s oeuvre, his monumental sculptures and hyper-realistic paintings are also indicative of the beauty that lies in simplicity. He believes that the thought behind art does not require to be exceedingly obscure or profound, and the idea just needs to be executed. He has also created works in other mediums, such as wood, bronze, marble, and brass.


Atul Dodiya
A pioneer of contemporary arts in India, Atul Dodiya is known for his diverse and multi-disciplinary art practice spanning a variety of mediums, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installation. His works seamlessly blend elements of Indian mythology, popular culture, and political commentary, creating a unique visual language that is both thought-provoking and aesthetically engaging. The artist frequently uses images and motifs borrowed from Indian folk art, popular comics, and Bollywood films, which he reinterprets to create a dialogue between different cultural and aesthetic traditions. He also often incorporates found objects, such as books, newspapers, and photographs, into his works, creating a rich and layered visual experience that invites the viewer to explore the work on multiple levels. Throughout his career, Dodiya has been committed to exploring the complex political and social issues that affect contemporary India, including the marginalisation of certain communities and the consequences of globalisation.

Nataraj Sharma
Canvases by artist Nataraj Sharma are conjured with wit and are ruminative of the implications of a rapidly transforming urban environment. The artist achieves this vision with a complex visual interplay and improvisation of varied elements, including memories, panoramic views, technology, detailed imagery, and nature. Executed with a unique visual code that adds new connotations to already familiar imagery, these large-scale works are dramatic, broody, quiescent, and defiant, all at the same time. Nataraj Sharma has worked in different mediums and genres, and his oeuvre is extremely rich both in content and form.

Ankita Talreja is AVP, AstaGuru Auction House


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