The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Art that Speaks: A Walk Through KNMA

Surabhi Sanghi, Class of 2020

The History Society of Ashoka University collaborated with the History Society of O.P. Jindal Global University and organized a visit to the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in Saket on 20th April 2019. The tour was led by Prof. Janice Pariat, Professor of Creative Writing and Art History at Ashoka University. The collaboration was aimed at filling the void created by living in isolation and having a shared space for communication and engagement between two vastly different yet similar educational institutes.

The interesting aspect of KNMA is that this art space is located inside the South Court mall in Saket and showcases selected works of Arpita Singh, an artist from the modernist school of art in India. The location itself shows how public spaces have evolved over the course of time and the new meanings they hold. Public spaces such as the mall are not simply air-conditioned recreational spots, the perfect escapes from the sultry weather or havens of international brands, they are also spaces where art and aesthetics exist and flourish while being extremely accessible.

The walk focused on the works of the iconic artist, Arpita Singh. She belongs to the modernist school of art and some of the recurring motifs in the artwork displayed included those of women and the taxi. She draws a lot from mythology and the holy book of the Sikhs. Her paintings talk to the audience about pertinent social and political issues which our nation, and perhaps, the whole world grapples with.

Another important aspect observed in her work was the use of text alongside the art. Usually, art and text tend not to mix unless the text is used to name a painting but she fused text into her work. However, in direct contrast, she also decided to leave a huge chunk of her artwork unnamed. Her later artwork incorporates elements from the post-globalization period and has satirical elements which can be interpreted as a commentary on the network of white collar jobs and the changes they have brought about in social outlooks. Indeed as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and a visit to the KNMA seemed to prove that notion correct.

The author is a second-year History major. She is an active member of the History Society and is a regular contributor to the Arts and Culture Section of The Edict.

Image Credits: Surabhi Sanghi, Class of 2020

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