Mining faces and places

Mining faces and places
Paresh Maity, one of India’s most decorated and commercially successful contemporary artists.

Paresh Maity, one of India's most decorated and commercially successful contemporary artists, says the pressure on him has become "even more intense" after he received the Padma Shri, one of the country's top civilian honours.

He was on a desert safari in the north-western Indian state of Rajasthan when his name was announced for the honour in January. The 49-year-old received his medal and citation from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in a ceremony on March 31.

He adds in a telephone interview: "With an award such as the Padma Shri comes even greater responsibility. I need to continue creating quality art that can add to the richness and diversity of India and Indian art across the globe."

Ever the restless globe-trotter, the chatty artist was speaking to Life! from London, where he is travelling in search of inspiration for his next project.

He will be in Singapore next week for the second edition of Kala Sutra, arguably the biggest Indian contemporary art outing here in recent years. It is organised by a New Delhi-based gallery, Sanchit Art, and Singapore's Phi Events.

Kala Sutra, which runs at The Arts House from May 23 to 25, will present not just artworks by the who's who of contemporary Indian art, but also the seven artists themselves in discussions about their art practice. It comes as Indian art continues to draw global interest amid a surge in popularity for Asian art.

In a break from postmodern conceptual art, the exhibition offers a mix of paintings with folk and mythological influences. Viewed together, they are a representation of modern India, where the traditional and the contemporary co-exist, defying labels often used in the West.

In all, there will be around 70 artworks - mostly paintings and some sculptures - with prices ranging from $12,000 to $170,000.

Maity has long made headlines with his work, which is in several prestigious collections including those of the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi and the British Museum in London. He has had more than 100 solo and group exhibitions around the world.

He is known internationally for his vibrant palette and use of colours to evoke everyday scenes and people encountered in India.

One prominent example is his large 244m mural, The Indian Odyssey, which depicts India's colours, people, art and architecture. It is a centrepiece at New Delhi International Airport's Terminal 3.

He says he looks for inspiration in the myriad expressions of the human face and the places he visits throughout the land.

"As a contemporary artist, I want to continue showing that our art can be rooted in our traditions and culture," he says.

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