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Monday, 29 September 2014

Rasheed Kappan Article

Indian artists vs Western icons (Deccan Herald) 
- Rasheed Kappan



Pic - Star Artist Mr. Abhishek Malsuni

Riveted to their globally marketed comic superheroes, thousands headed to the Bangalore Comic Con on Saturday.

On the sidelines of this hugely popular three-day art and illustration extravaganza, a bunch of Indian artists sat defiantly to beckon the youngsters to their brand of kitsch art. They were there to outwit their far superior comic book artists from the West, to carve a niche in a heavily contested market.

Spread out inside the 40,000 sq ft White Orchid Convention Centre at Bagmane Tech Park, the fest had big names from famed American and British comic books:The likes of Dan Parent, artist and writer best known for his work for Archies comics; David Lloyd, the British comics illustrator of the story ‘V for Vendattta’ and the American cartoonist Peter Kruper of the “Spy vs Spy” fame. Sporting masks and merchandise of their creations, seeking their autographs, their young fans ruled the centre.

Yet, the Indian avatars were in no mood to be outdone. Packing a punch, Amar Chitra Katha stood out with a massive pavilion. Its photobooths, quizzes, puppets and story-telling contests were designed to rev up the legendary comic books built on a liberal dose of pop mythology and culture. Raj Comics had book launches galore. Day 2 saw the unveiling of the Ravanayan Finale and The Kaurava Empire series.

Hovering artists

Outside this comic book straightjacket hovered artists such as Vikram Nandwani. He had given up his high-paying Infosys job to rebrand himself as a graphic designer, an artist hooked onto vector drawings and water colours to be reflected on flashy art merchandise. His “Verry India” brand had his art on T-shirts, bags, mousepads, laptops and iPad slings, clutches and wallets. 

Sameer Hazari was another engineer-turned-artist challenging the global crowd-pullers. Graduating from PES Institute of Technology here, he had realised early that his real call was art. So he packed off to London, finishing his Master of Fine Arts from Middlesex. The next six years, he reinvented himself, packaging his paintings on usable stuff. “I sensed it was the best thing.

My works resonates with the younger crowd. It gets easier to connect with them when the art works are put on mugs and T-shirts and more,” he explained to Deccan Herald.

Art merchandising was precisely what drove Mumbai-based Jenny Bhatt to print her works on coasters and iPhone covers. Under her banner, “Moksha Shots,” Bhatt had her exclusive range of art toys and abstract ethnic icons to beckon the crowds. 

“I know it will take time for Indian artists to make a mark. Indians automatically gravitate to anything foreign. But the younger crowds are showing interest, they are open to check what we do too,” said she.

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