Challenges of diligence

Challenges of diligence

Back from a successful show at the Biwako Biennale exhibition in Tokyo, young artists Swati Vijay and Vijay Kumar share their experiences of meeting...

Back from a successful show at the Biwako Biennale exhibition in Tokyo, young artists Swati Vijay and Vijay Kumar share their experiences of meeting the global art community

From Telangana to Tokyo, it was a rare opportunity for the Hyderabad-based artist couple, Swathi Vijay and Vijay Kumar to showcase their paintings at the Biwako Biennale exhibition in Japan. The couple got an invitation to Japan after their exhibits grabbed the attention of Japanese curator at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, (ENSDA) in Paris, where Swathi was an exchange student.

Sharing their experience, the couple say, “Our installation work caught the eye of Yoko Na Kaka, a Japanese curator. He invited us to Biwako Biennale exhibition which is a global event. It was indeed a great moment for us.”

Vijay and Swati

Swathi and Vijay’s works deal with people, their psychology and reactions and their involvement with several issues in the social frame work. Swati’s painting ‘breaking news’ gives a message on how media has been commercialised. She won the prestigious French Embassy and Krishnakriti Fellowship programme for a residency in Paris.

The artist couple graduated in painting from Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad. While Vijay is pursuing Masters in fine arts, Swati completed her masters in fine arts from JNAFAU in 2011.

Swati’s works from the ‘Trail of Ants’ is a metaphorical ode to the collective strength of ants, which compares to the overwhelming unity exhibited by Indians during the nationalist movement. Black ants form the portrait of Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence, while red ants represent the militant outfit of Subhash Chandra Bose.

The work

The couple displayed their paintings ‘Returning to Life’ which is the last part from the series of ‘Trail of ants’. Explaining their concept Swati says, “The painting depicts how Japanese people bounced back to the normal life with hardwork and unity after Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks and Fukushima nuclear accidents, again, with hope, hard work and unity. We feel that they are really strong, hence they are a developed nation.

While ants seem to be a common feature in their work, there are few pieces that stand out like the Bansky-inspired Gandhi graphic they painted at the Jubilee Hills check post during Telangana agitation. Explaining about the graffiti, the couple says, “Violence need not be violent. The painting was done at the peak moment of Telangana agitation and Osmania University was volatile. We took Gandhiji’s birthday as an opportunity to spread the message ‘scale the violence to a minute’.

The work was inspired by Banksy.”She exhibited her paintings at several exhibitions - to name a few - ‘Stapled ideas’ at M S University of Baroda; Camlin Art, Bangalore; ‘1st International Women Art Exhibition’, Canada; ‘Hazaaron Khwahisain’ at Daira Art Gallery, Hyderabad; 66th All India Art Exhibition, The Hyderabad Art Society, Hyderabad, ‘Camlin Art – 2006’, Chennai and Art Promo India, Chennai.

When asked about difference they found in state of art in India and Japan, Vijay says “We found difference in the technical aspect. Most galleries in India are built in a way where installation based works can’t be displayed. We feel Japanese are more advanced in everything they do and it doesn’t mean that our galleries are not good.”

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