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Thukral and Tagra

Indian Contemporary Artists’ Group

Jiten Thukral
Born 1976, Jalandhar, Punjab, India
Lives and works in New Delhi

Sumir Tagra
Born 1979, New Delhi
Lives and works in New Delhi

Thukral and Tagra, alias T&T is the artist duo of Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra, who work with a wide range of mediums like painting, sculpture, installation, video, graphic and product design, websites, music and fashion. Their playful and tongue in cheek works address sinister questions about identity, consumerism and change.

Education

Jiten Thukral
2000

Master of Fine Arts, Delhi College of Art, New Delhi

1998

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Chandigarh Art College, India

 

Sumir Tagra
2006

Post Graduate from National School of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, India

2002

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Delhi College of Art, New Delhi

1999

Shankar’s Academy of Arts, New Delhi

VIEW     Selected exhibitions     Text      Videos      Selected images      View all

LIFE AND WORK

MAPPING THE ARTIST

20

Gallery Show Solo

19

Countries exhibited in

2

Museum Show Solo

4

International / national residencies

11

Years in Practice

22

Auctions

5

Special Projects

2

Biennales

2

Museum/public collections

16

Museum Show Group

34

Publications

7

Awards

26

Gallery Show Group

6

Art Fairs

UNDERSTANDING Thukral and Tagra

Blurs the lines between fine art and popular culture, product placement and exhibition design

Jiten Thukral and Sumit Tagra (T&T) started their careers as graphic and product designers before getting their first major break at Nature Morte, New Delhi in 2004. Bringing with them their initial experience of design aesthetics, they combine design technology with formal art standards. The artist duo has commented, “We were trained as communication designers and we make use of gadgets like mobile phones and computers. Sometimes, when we are not working together, we keep sending soft copies of a work to each other so that the other can finish it. We don't paint straight on the canvas.”

Thukral and Tagra, 315 Sector 23, 2008, mixed media, 61 2/5 × 41 3/10 × 41 3/10 in

Thukral and Tagra, Immortalis 10 & 11, 2009, acrylic on fibreglass in two parts, with accessories 70 x 46 x 38 cm, each

Works with a wide variety of media-videos, music, interiors, paintings, sculpture and installations

The artist duo experiments in several mediums simultaneously, defying any commitment to the confines of a single medium. In “Windows of Opportunity”, 2013, Thukral and Tagra combine wall-mounted oil on canvas works with a site-specific installation of a white-and-orange racetrack across the first storey of the gallery while “Longing for Tomorrow”, 2012, combines paintings with sculpture, decorative accoutrements, furniture, classical vases and ceramic centrepieces painted in saccharine colours.

Exhibition view of “Thukral and Tagra: Windows of Opportunity”, 2013, Art Plural Gallery, Singapore.

Thukral and Tagra, Meissen Somnium Genero 11, 2012, Meissen porcelain, oil on wooden furniture with laminate top with three oil on shaped canvases, Meissen piece: 28 x 12”, table: 28 x 23 x 23”.

Borrows heavily from popular culture, mass media, street life and the advertising world

The artists in their trademark style often combine exuberant, saccharine colours like baby blues and neon pinks with glyphs like hot air balloons, supermarket trolley, sports memorabilia imported from the world of advertising as well as popular cultural heroes like Superman. The floral patterns and pink rooftops render kitsch like quality to their works. Their signature style echoes the aesthetics of “Punjabi Baroque”- a postmodern architectural style of India’s new middle class which is both ostentatious and misguided reflecting a jumble of sensibilities. In their work, Dominus Aeris- Escape (II), 2011, the sprawling residential complex in the suburbs of Gurgaon decked up like colonial bungalows are transformed into surrealistic flying castles soaring through the skies like kitsch trophies.

Thukral and Tagra, Dominus Aeris- Escape (II), 2011, oil on canvas, 96 x 74”.

Characterised by embellishment, often combining ornate objects with everyday articles

Large scale installations that embed individual elements is typical of the artist’s works. For their show at the Mori Museum in Tokyo, the artist duo re-created a middle-class living room which held a large range of utility objects and decorative articles along with a cabinet full of chocolates, whiskey miniatures and toy planes. Sculpture of human torso painted with floral motifs jutted out from the wall like hunting trophies. Similarly in “Escape! For the dreamland”, 2009, the duo constructed a domestic space featuring paintings, sculpture, video and consumer objects.
Curator Ranjit Hoskote has astutely observed, “One of the basic gestures in T&T’s oeuvre is that of embellishment, which connects their work with tapestry and embroidery. Through this, they signal their engagement with the world of the domestic interior, the mingled comforts and disquietudes of home as-enclosure...”
For The ESCAPE! Reset/ Resume, 2012 as a part of “India: Art Now” at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, the artists created an installation resembling the inside of an airplane cabin with rows of seats upholstered in tacky, mis-matched fabrics while the carpeting on the floor is sourced from Punjabi Phulkari embroideries.

Thukral and Tagra, “Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art”, 2008. Installation view, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.

Thukral and Tagra, The ESCAPE! Reset/ Resume, 2012. Installation view, “India: Art Now”, ARKEN Museum for Modern Art, Denmark.

Humorous yet provocative works address social themes like consumerism, migration and safe sex

In the past few years, T&T have explored in their works the theme of migration, middle class aspiration to leave India and settle abroad as a measure of success, the rise of consumerism and the phenomenon of globalisation. In Science, Mystery, Magic and Myth I, 2011, the artist sought to dispel myths about the transmission of AIDS and emphasised the need for sex education. “Match Fixed”, 2010-11, is a biting satire of arranged marriages in India’s northern state of Punjab while in Windows of Opportunity, 2013, Thukral and Tagra shift their focus to the immigration aspirations of young Indians using the metaphor of pinball game and the oval shape of airplane windows. With paintings, sculptures and an installation, T&T have created their fake brand Bosedk (a clever transliteration of an abuse in Punjabi language) commenting upon commodification and homogenising globalisation.
Thukral and Tagra’s work essentially revolves around the Indian identity: how Indians themselves perceive their nation, how they interact within a global context in which they are gaining increased relevancy, and how they change and adapt.

Thukral and Tagra, BoseDK, 2007. Installation view.

Thukral and Tagra, Windows of Opportunity, 2013, Oil on canvas, 18 x 28 x 2.5” each.

Thukral and Tagra, “Match Fixed”, 2010. Exhibition view, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, November 2010- February 2011.

Thukral and Tagra, Essentials (Clark Kent), 2011, acrylic and oil on canvas, 48.4 x 36 x 2.9”.

Bibliography