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Full of joy and surprise: Listen to what FIRST TAKE 2021 winners have to say!

It was a moment of pride for 10 young artists, handpicked from across India, as winners of Abir India’s FIRST TAKE 2021 competition. Chosen out of 122 artists and with their works standing out from over 2500 submissions, the emerging talents gained a lot to look forward to from this platform. Selected for their excellence, ideas and expressions, they talked with Abir Pothi about the works they submitted, their art practice, and their aspirations. Here is what the winners have to say!

Asif Imran – Lalgola, West Bengal


My artworks deal with different socio-economic issues. I study different classes of people whenever traveling from one place to another and try to narrate my visual experience through my artworks. I depict the interconnection among different classes to architecture in different contexts and juxtapose different life styles to old colonial architecture and urban and rural standards of living. The paintings I submitted for FIRST TAKE 2021 depict West Bengal during the pandemic. While people were afraid, they were also curious about going out and observing what was happening. I tried to make sense of the relationship between urban and rural spaces and how the socio-economic conditions were affected at the time. I am extremely pleased to have won the award; during the lockdown I had lost all hope for a period but this award brings back the inspiration to move on!

Priyaranjan Purkait – Kolkata, West Bengal


My practice is dominated by the images and memories of my village in the Sunderbans. I have grown up closely observing the fishing community and the fishing net appears as a recurrent image and a metaphor for resilience and struggle in my works. I try to incorporate different techniques to depict a variety of textures and tones of the fishing nets. In my next project, I am going to focus on how the communities repair and recycle cloth and fishing nets because of lack of funds.

Chhering Negi – Solan, Himachal Pradesh


Rear Window comprises many windows to many different people. It acknowledges the unique personality of each person depicted here, but also talks of the common thread of humanity. Cacti and flowers depict the duality and struggle in living, leading to an idea of balance. Each human being has her own circumstances and her own struggles, but whilst combating all issues, she arrives at her own solution and makes her own ecosystem. Each composition is a reminder that in the ordinary there are nuances of the extraordinary efforts made to sustain in this wide big world. Growing up in Himachal, my style has some influence from thanka art and there are Buddist elements, such as the way I represent clouds, in my works. With the FIRST TAKE 2021 award money received from Abir India, I am going to invest into an etching press and ensure that I have avenues to continue working even if events such as the lockdown reoccur.

Jintu Mohan Kalita – Barama, Assam


My earlier works were centred mostly around the self and the immediate world that I had occupied.  Now, my subject matter has expanded to the stories and experiences of other people and the society at large. I am inclined and  interested in understanding  human behaviour and the  psychology of the mind. The vulnerability of human behaviour and collective consciousness of humankind captivates my attention. I aspire to engage with the society at large and put forth the many issues around us. It is only with the recognition of the problems, that one knows what answers to seek. I practiced in New Delhi for four years but had to suddenly return to his remote village in Assam owing to a family emergency. Now, with the FIRST TAKE 2021 award money, I will invest in an etching press!

Jithin Jayakumar – Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala


My art practice mostly reflects the conflicts related to survival on earth. Incorporation of animals in religious practice, city planning and management of industrial waste, isolation and selfishness in the modern world, community guidelines and religious boundaries, equality and hierarchy of rich and poor, loyalty and faith in humanity, dependency and attachment of humans with architecture, ownership over other things, universal thought, and permanency of life itself is my subject of art practice. Both my entries for FIRST TAKE 2021 depict the never-ending struggle faced by the common man to etch a living. ‘I sold a part’ refers to the idea of an individual ‘selling themselves’ piece by piece  until they no longer have anything left to give away. The hollow space in the pieces points to emptiness and voyeurism. I have woven incidents together in art. If something gets too burdensome, I find a way to vent it out through my work.

Kinnari Tondlekar – Thane, Maharashtra


I studied BFA in Painting and MFA in Graphics at Sir JJ School of Art. After graduation, I have been honing my skills in printmaking and painting. One can experience my evolving vision of growing up in a small town to living in an urban city through my artwork. In this era of urbanization, homes are also becoming mere reflections of this city. I depict “ease of surrounding” in my artworks to explore the lives lived within and the memories left behind. I recreate visual experiences with the help of etching, woodcut, serigraphy or any such media to which I have easy access.

Shubhankar Chandere – Pune, Maharashtra


I have been working in multiple mediums and structural approaches. The kind of visual culture that I really practice has psychic introversion and insane realities. These existential situations are consequences, conversions and transitions of human problems with respect to space.  These are important aspects of practice.  I believe that looking is thinking. Living in rural and urban life I have seen the transitions of spaces and landscapes and these provide a specific context of looking. I believe that landscape is the collective consciousness and try to portray the same. The entries I sent for FIRST TAKE 2021 were made during the peak of the pandemic at a time when each individual was somehow lost in a quest of existence. The paintings depict loneliness, unpredictability, street walkers slowly emerging out after the lockdown was eased, and the woes of the working class. Going forth, I am applying to art residencies and also wish to transition to a research-based approach, on human identity, to strengthen my work.

Mausham R Manglla – Vadodara, Gujarat


Overlaid with different visual tools like lines, colours and form, my work conveys a belonging, compression of time, space and place in a wider perspective of references, embedded from my surroundings with the critical view of social, political and cultural encounters, often expressed through metaphorical representation of forms and elements. Through my work, I investigate how personal history and memory are tied to place, how time informs memory, and how visual representation can be used to communicate experience.

Rutvik Mehta – Surendranagar, Gujarat


Always surrounded by domestic animals since childhood, I am fascinated by their form, style and endearing nature and frequently depict the animals in my work. I am from a very rural area so my day-to-day life and also try to represent current scenarios of politics and emotional realms of pain or joy through my work.

Sriparna Dutta – Hyderabad, Telangana


I explore fabrics as my medium extensively.  My practice is autobiographical and deals with my emotion, memory, I have tried to express a vast spectrum of feelings. I use threads, cotton, and decorative fabrics or laces as well as ashes, burns, ink splashes in my works. I use burn as a medium of symbolizing cremation, wound, and the sense of death. On the contrary, I use embroidery to create visual contrast that beauty creates against death. Most of my works are installation-based. I could almost liken my practice to dairy writing; just as a poet or a writer pens their thoughts every day, I create something out of the significant experiences or memories of the day. Currently, I am working on a small installation that is themed around my relationship with my mother. I faced much struggle during my childhood and my mother used to work as a nurse to support the family; she used to be constantly away. It is only now that we are truly getting to spend time together and I want to translate these experiences in my work.

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