'Contemporary Mizo identity, art practice still traditionally rooted'

Updated on : Feb 18,2019   2:36 pm

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) With a focus to put Mizoram on the map of the burgeoning Indian contemporary art, 14 young artists from the northeastern state will exhibit their works here that speak of the contemporary Mizo identity as a complex mixture of global influences and valued regional traditions.

A group exhibition titled "Contemporary Art", organised by the government of Mizoram, will present a slice of Mizoram's budding art practice. It will open on Tuesday at the India International Centre (IIC) Annexe here.

The Mizo art scene, although replete with the use of Western artistic techniques and styles, is strongly rooted in the regional traditions.

"Taking up materials, techniques and idioms from Western cultural practices, the Mizos construct their own artistic language by amalgamating them with the Mizo sensibility and culture.

"We see in the current exhibition the idyllic Mizo rural scenes, Mizo lasses, and local flora and fauna as very dominant themes that the Mizo artists are working with, while using Western techniques and styles," Isaac Malsawmtluanga, a participant and art education professor at District Institute of Education and Training, Aizawl, told IANS.

A small art market and occasional sale of artworks does not stop local artists from exploring new media. Many self-taught and only a handful of academically trained artists, the practitioners mostly work with local subjects and topics.

Malsawmtluanga, who is part of an art movement at Mizoram Art Development Society (MADS), believes that like other regions Mizoram is also part of the global village "where things happen at a fast pace and where information and data bombards you by the second".

"So, the valued age-old traditions that had remained with us are also experiencing modifications and change so as to have more meaning and practicality. But, the Mizos closely guard the core and concepts of these traditions," the former M.Phil student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) explained.

He illustrates this with the example of the concept of 'tlawmngaihna' (selfless sacrifice).

"Back in the days, the braves of the village had to defend their homes from wild animals and enemies and had to possess the spirit of tlawmngaihna. However today, there is no need to protect one's village from these elements, and the Mizos ingeniously used the concept of tlawmngaihna in the sphere of social work.

"So whatever may be on the outside appearance, the core of the Mizo identity is still deeply rooted in their age old traditions and value," the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale exhibitor said.

Malsawmtluanga, whose own art practice is a reflection of Mizo culture and identity filtered through his lens, tries to situate this indigenous existence in the bigger picture of Indian contemporary art and culture.

Along with his co-exhibitors who are mostly self-taught artists, some involved with art schools and galleries of Mizoram, the young artist hopes to bring their visual voices to a larger audience through the exhibit.

The exhibition will run from February 20 to 26.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at siddhi.j@ians.in)

--IANS

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