Yusuf Arakkal, untitled, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches Image Credit: Supplied

In recent times, the rising prices of Indian art have made it inaccessible to art lovers and investors with smaller budgets. But Artmantram's first exhibition in Dubai offers a good opportunity to buy affordable Indian art. The show titled Place in the Sun features work by 24 contemporary artists, ranging from established names such as Yusuf Arakkal, Arpana Caur, J.M.S. Mani and Gogi Saroj Pal to emerging artists such as Paresh Hazra, Sultana Hassan and Ganapati Hegde. Prices start at Dh1,200, and the show also includes reasonably priced drawings on paper by leading artists. All profits from the show will be used to support autistic children.

"We are a not-for-profit organisation, run by volunteers who are passionate about art and committed to giving back to society. Our vision is to make art accessible to everybody. Since its inception in 1999, Artmantram has been organising exhibitions of affordable art in India and abroad, along with art camps, workshops, talks and other art-related events with the dual purpose of addressing social issues and encouraging art. All our profits are used to empower the abandoned girl child and to provide educational support to underprivileged, physically challenged and autistic children," says Jija Madhavan Harisingh, artist and founder of Artmantram.

The show has been curated by Raji Narayan, president of Artmantram. It includes a variety of subjects, styles and media that reflect the diversity of contemporary Indian art. Paintings by established artists include Broken Pot, from Yusuf Arakkal's philosophical still life series, and a thought-provoking canvas from Arpana Caur, expressing her concern for the growing violence against women in society and addressing metaphysical questions about time, life and death. Also on display are two pencil drawings by Caur — one from her well-known Soni Mahiwal series and the other a light-hearted take on sycophancy.

Gogi Saroj Pal's painting, It's Raining Outside, also focuses on the status of women in society. Her husband Ved Nayar's evocative piece, Naika and Tree Trunk, combines his concerns for women and the environment. And S.G. Vasudev's untitled painting, from his well-known Tree of Life series, represents the tree as a symbol of organic unity of all life and the sum total of the existence and consciousness of all beings.

J.M.S. Mani is represented through several paintings from his Badami People series. The artist works in various media including sculpture, printmaking and charcoal drawing but is best known for this series of oil paintings portraying balloon sellers, coconut vendors and other rural scenes. The paintings capture the simplicity, resilience and history of these rustic folk.

Some of Harisingh's abstract compositions, titled Inner Life, are also on show.

Other recognised names in the show include Ravindra Salve, M.G. Dodamani, Radhika Varma Hormusjee and Rekha Rao. Salve's compositions are dramatic, larger than life, complex and colourful; Dodamani's textured paintings feature horses. Hormusjee is known for her bright palette and surrealistic style. A recurring motif in her work is the swan, which symbolises the beauty and inner strength of women. Her compositions, created especially for this show, feature the swans against Arabian-inspired backdrops.

Among the emerging artists, Paresh Hazra stands out with the interesting textures he creates in his surrealistic egg tempera paintings, gilded with gold leaf. And Praveen Kumar impresses with his abstract cityscapes. Manash Ranjan Jena and Purshotham Adve's work have an Indian ethos with inspiration from ancient Indian temple sculptures and folk traditions.

"Our dream is that some of these promising youngsters will go on to become the leading artists of the next generation," Narayan says.

Some of the artists have also incorporated features such as sand dunes, horses, camels, falcons, crescent moons and Islamic domes and arches to celebrate their first showing in this region.


Jyoti Kalsi is an art enthusiast based in Dubai.


‘Place in the Sun' will run at Art Select @Level 10, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai, until December 12.