Maybe it’s a reflection of the current art world that India had a major art fair before it held its first biennial. But that’s all changed now that the Kochi Biennial has launched with many home-team favorites:
Big names from India include Bihar-born Subodh Gupta, best-known for his steel-based installations, and painter Atul Dodiya, whose series painted on shop shutters engages with themes like political myths. Both of them will be showing new work in Kochi. Mr. Gupta is presenting an installation of a boat filled with furniture and other household objects.
International artists include Pakistan’s Rashid Rana, who uses photographic mosaics to address contemporary issues, and Baghdad-born, Israeli artist Joseph Semah.
Plenty of the work on show will be site-specific, inspired by Kochi and its history. A spice trade hub, the city fell into the hands of the Portuguese and the Dutch before becoming a princely state under British rule. Today, Hindus, Muslims and Jews coexist there, contributing to its multicultural reputation.
This, say organizers of the Kochi biennale, is what makes the town better suited than anywhere else in India to host an international art exhibition.
Kochi: India’s First Art Biennale (India Real Time/WSJ)