Superb portrayal of Realism
engages with the new turn in contemporary Indian art and provides the socio-political and aesthetic contexts to appreciate/critique its new manoeuvres and developments.
I coined the term ‘new mediatic realism’, in the course of a recent essay, to encompass the genre of painting that had arisen in India in response to historical changes in visuality provoked by televisual and cybernetic developments. All realisms are developed and judged in relation to, by comparison with, the paradigm of visuality that is most widely recognised as having captured the sense of the real in a particular society at a particular time. We have seen, over the last 160 years, how spectacular theatre, photography, the cinema and the Net have variously served as this dominant paradigm of visuality. My question, accordingly, was this: Are we witnessing, in contemporary Indian painting, the emergence of a new realism benchmarked against the media image? That is: since the index of reality now is the mediatic flow, do these media-informed paintings mark the front line of an altogether new take on the real?
What really worked is the creative skills coupled with
new turn in contemporary Indian art and provides the socio-political and aesthetic contexts to appreciate/critique its new manoeuvres and developments.
I did not intend to celebrate this phenomenon or merely stick a new-fangled label on it without addressing the shadows of unease and the slippages implicit in this genre. Rather, mine was an attempt to interpret and contextualise the ambivalent political and aesthetic choices of the practitioners of such a new mediatic realism, and to set them against a critically regional history of the media in India
As with all such tendencies, new mediatic realism has been dangerously naturalised and accepted as part of the terrain of art, as though such a phenomenon was inevitable. Many artists and their publicists have become amnesiac to the art-historical provocations and technological availabilities that gave birth to this tendency in the first place.