India Today Art Awards 2019: Fashion with an edge

What is new and exciting is the breaking of barriers of all kinds-low and high art, art and the artisanal, visual art and performance art, ethnic art and international art,” said Aroon Purie, the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the India Today Group, speaking at the India Today Art Awards in Swabhumi, Kolkata, which was held in association with The India Story 4.0, a four-day event of fashion, food, art and design held annually in West Bengal’s capital. Similar barriers between art and applied art dissolved with Fashion Meets Art, a fashion show with a difference held after the event. Twelve designers turned towards art, their inspirations ranging from impressionism to tribal art forms.

Designer duo Abraham and Thakore chose to interpret artist Nasreen Mohamedi’s works in their creation. Mohamedi’s ‘minimalist line-based drawings’ inspired them to echo the same linear patterns.

Bobo Calcutta, a label known for its queer-sensitive prints and vibrant colours, turned to 19th-century French artist Henri Rousseau’s “real and dreamlike landscapes in which the abundance of foliage, humans and animal life stands reinforced by the neatness and clarity of their execution”. A childlike-effect emerged through the use of playful imagery in the print that designer Ayushman Mitra developed for his sari and poncho. “I believe that good art should create an encounter with the viewer and much like that, with my garments, I hope to initiate such an intimate encounter with the wearer,” Mitra said.

Gaurav Gupta was struck by the infinite nature of impressionist painter Claude Monet’s work. “There is a sense of infinity to his brush strokes depicting the water and the sky,” he said. Kolkata-based designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh professed to love Gustav Klimt’s “shimmering gold dominated palette”. Delhi-based designers Pankaj and Nidhi “were inspired by the Japanese art of origami”. The “elements of playfulness and metamorphosis” in graphic artist M.C. Escher’s work are what inspired Rahul Mishra. Metamorphosis seen through the eyes of surrealist painter Salavdor Dali inspired designer Rimzim Dadu, for working with unexpected materials for her designs. For this show, she used steel wires to create a garment that was at once mouldable yet not formless.

Samant Chauhan was struck by the environmental chord in artist Vibha Galhotra’s work. Shantanu and Nikhil chose Phulkari as their inspiration. “We have been inspired by the facets and emotions of India, but in a modern way,” they said.

Designer duo Shivan and Narresh, too, chose a traditional art form. Inspired by the Gond tribal art of Madhya Pradesh, the duo took the art form’s motifs of “fantastical animals” and depicted them on a sari. Suneet Varma, too, chose Dali as his muse and expressed it in a shimmery sari with exaggerated ruffles.

The evening ended with a performance by the Omaggio Performing Company.