In 2016, over cups of coffee, Delhi-based artists Kunel Gaur and Sharon Borgoyary started a casual discussion on wanting to do something around Independence Day, especially in the sphere of design. Like them, most contemporary artists were of the opinion that the art related to this historic day is rigidly patriotic and not fit for the present age. This led to the birth of Indianama, an art project that saw 69 Indian artists living within the country and abroad, interpret the map of India in a way that appealed to them in terms of the design and the concept, where each picked a different time period from the country's history as the basic research theme.
"Barring textbooks, the history of India is not documented anywhere through art. Abroad, design studios are taking each bit of history apart and giving it their spin. We thought, 'Why not us?' The response was varied, and artists worked on themes ranging from Independence to the death of Sanjay Gandhi. Everyone has an opinion on every chapter of history. It was good to see different ideas on the same topic, which you may not have thought of otherwise," says Gaur.
The success of this art project, which got covered by the media in India and abroad, made the team think of executing a second edition, the topic this time being a re-imagined tourism poster for India. "When you look for tourism art in India, you will find two things on the Internet — either photographs that run as ads or vintage posters from the '80s that were commissioned and created by these amazing artists. I don't know where did we lose them," Gaur tells us.
For the second edition, they even roped in non-Indian designers because they wanted a foreign point of view, since the product is meant for a global audience. One of the artists even turned out to be a big fan of actor Rajinikant and incorporated the megastar in the poster. The project was also an exhibit at the London Design Festival last year. "It was amazing, as the international audience didn't expect these sort of graphic artworks to come from India. It helped that the themes were also contemporary subjects, such as start-ups," says Gaur.
You can view all these 70 artworks at the Indianama Exhibit, starting today at design and art store Kulture Shop. These will also be available for purchase as one-of-a-kind giclee prints on archival paper.
"Kunel is an artist with Kulture Shop and we always look for graphic art that is thought-provoking, which we found in both editions of Indianama. It presents a wide range of perspectives, styles and techniques that make it eclectic," says artist Jas Charanjiva, Kulture Shop.
Kunel Gaur and Sharon Borgoyary
Gaur tells us they did get in touch with the tourism office to use these posters, they didn't come on board. Gaur is also the founder of ad agency Animal, with Indianama being a self-initiated project for the company. For the third edition, they will look at small businesses on the streets. "We work with big campaigns, brand solutions and the needs of big companies. But small businesses on the streets don't have access to good design. So, for the next edition, we will look at branding on the street, for people who cannot afford them," Gaur reveals.
TIll February 18, 11 am to 8 pm
At Kulture Shop, behind Trishna Restaurant, Kala Ghoda.