New digital archive promotes South Indian visual artists and their works

A new digital archive promotes visual artists of South India in a bid to give them a leg up in the art market

An artist and her efforts to create a space for her peers forms the foundation of A Moxie Tale, a digital archive that promotes visual artists from South India.

Now, in its nascent stages, the platform attempts to train the spotlight on South Indian practices, more specifically from Tamil Nadu, and doubles up as a digital space for display, which connoisseurs can browse and opt to support.

Behind it is Moksha Kumar, a Chennai-based artist and curator. Shapes, architecture and art have been constant companions for Moksha, and so A Moxie Tale, to her, seems like a natural destination.

“My focus was not only on providing space for others, but also on championing the arts,” says the artist who has a BFA in Painting from Pratt Institute, New York, after which she went on to specialise in Art History at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. She is currently a practising artist at Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai.

During her years in New York she realised that Indian art needs space — “Even today, the Asian market is not recognised. There definitely has to be a push,” says Moksha.

After interacting with artists in South India, she discovered that though they have expertise, marketing is an intimidating process for many.

This aspect is not covered in arts education. This, she believes, is one of the biggest shortcomings in the art market of India. Hence she decided to create an archive especially for artists who were not getting the steam they needed. It led her to focus on South India. “We can see that the artists have a unique voice. But expressing that unique voice needs a certain expertise in communication.”

A Moxie Tale, conceptualised in the beginning of this year, attempts to bridge these gaps. “I started visiting studios and talking to artists about featuring their work,” she continues.

“The distinction is made based on how experimental they are and how much they want to push themselves. When I curate, I automatically look at the way these artists are approaching their own work and their philosophies.”

She points to examples. “Artist Kumaresan Selvaraj does paperwork and you wouldn’t expect paper to be used in the way he does: layering paper and patterns to form geometrical structures. Gurunathan Govindan uses pigments on canvas to create a texture — and in turn an emotional connection with the viewer — as contrasting colours meet.”

“There is an educational aspect too. When a person looks at the medium, they are intrigued to know about the artists who use these mediums.I want to include neurodiverse (those in the autistic spectrum) artists and have three on the platform right now,” Moksha adds.

Priyanka Muthuraman, a Chennai artist who specialises in sculpture and public art featured in the archive, says, “My main aim is to integrate art and architecture. Such websites are essential especially for artists who are starting out. The fact that someone [a practising artist of this generation] has actually thought about their peers, makes it important and personal.”

Moksha believes that the whole landscape of art in Tamil Nadu can change with innovation in marketing.

Will the initiative see a physical space someday? Moksha says that right now her focus is on building trust and enabling community-building. But having said that, a physical space is not entirely out of question.

Visit www.moxie-tales.com

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