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Spotlight on Mizoram

This exhibition showcases the work of 14 veterans and budding contemporary artists with the aim of bringing Mizo art into the contemporary art scene of India

Situated in the far northeast corner of the country, Mizoram has its own indigenous repository of art that is yet to be acknowledged in the mainstream contemporary art scene of India. In an effort to give this unique art style its due recognition, here’s an exhibition that brings Mizoram art to the forefront.

Titled ‘Contemporary Art’, the exhibition puts together the work of 14 artists from the state. “These artists pursue their artistic dreams undeterred by the lack of commercial success and are aware that gaining acclamation like Raza and Hussain is a far-fetched dream. It is at this juncture that a need arises to look beyond borders and connect the dots to situate the Mizo contemporary art practice into the larger framework of Indian contemporary art,” says Teteii, representative of the Mizoram state government.

This exhibition attempts to bridge the geographical gap and provide a platform to showcase the talents of contemporary young artists. The Mizo art scene is marked by wide arrays of styles and techniques that are largely influenced by western art practices and idioms. However, in matters of subject and contextual affiliations of the work, the Mizo identity and sensibility takes precedence. This gives their work a unique flavour.

“Mostly the dominant themes in Mizo paintings are folklore, local flora and fauna, beliefs, and the day to day village life. The artists mainly practice regional works. International issues are not touched upon. The thematic concept is very much internalised, even though the visual styles are western,” explains Isaac Malsawmtluanga, a participant artist who is also currently a lecturer in Art Education at District Institute of Education and Training, Aizawl.

The spectrum of artists participating in the exhibition are quite varied. While some of the seniors have shown their works for a considerable period of time now, others are emerging and junior artists who are mostly self-taught.

Completing his Masters in Fine Arts from College of Arts, Delhi, Isaac has quite often shown his work in the city. However, majority of the other Mizo artists do not get hold of the same opportunity.

“Even though a collective like this has been shown before in Delhi, it has never been able to reach out and did not receive much publicity. We, Mizo artists, rarely have the chance or the platform to show our work in the larger arena of a nationwide audience,” says Isaac.

But he hopes that this exhibition can bring about a change by bringing Mizo art into the limelight. “In the larger picture of India, it hopefully will be a stepping stone in bringing the artworks of Mizoram to the mainstream,” he concludes.

The exhibition is on display at Art Gallery of India International Centre Annexe till February 26.