The Brij Mohan Anand Foundation was established to study, promote and archive the work of the late artist after which the foundation is named. The foundation needed a booth to be made for the India Art Fair to showcase the work of Anand.
The concept, design and scenography for the booth was done by the Delhi based, Ishan Khosla Design LLP (IKD), who only worked on the booth, but also on the selection and arrangement of the artworks, as well as a bespoke installation to house the numerous vernacular and English language book covers designed by Anand.
Since IKD have also designed a book on the artist, Narratives for Indian Modernity: The Aesthetic of Brij Mohan Anand and are currently working on the second book focussed on the artist’s scratchboards, they are quite familiar with his ouevre. Brij Mohan Anand (1928–1986), a self-taught artist, illustrator and designer was also life-long socialist, humanist and internationalist. Anand grew up in the days of colonial rule and eventual partition and independence of India. His ideas were shaped during India’s postcolonial period and its emergence as a modern, social democracy.
Anand’s most powerful and distinctive works are a series of works he did throughout his artistic career on a medium called scratchboard or scraperboard — a technique primarily associated with technical instruction and illustration in newspapers and manuals. The subject matter in these scratchboards included Colonization, the Nuclear Arms Race, the Space Age, the Cold War, the Industrial Military Complex, Geopolitics, and Imperialism.
Khosla was clear from the start that this needed to be a not just another “booth” at the Art Fair but a space that brought to life the rich oeuvre of B.M. Anand to an audience that is largely unaware of the prolific artist and his diverse range of work, that spans various mediums, subject matter (from politically motivated to popular culture) and his distinctive and emotive black and white scratchboards. The objective of the design was to highlight this strong graphic quality and his political and rebellious "outsider" nature — and bring it to the attention of collectors, curators, art historians, galleries, museums and art lovers.
To activate the space, and to emphasize the graphic quality of Anand’s work — two diagonal partitions with stark black and white scratchboards enlarged from its original size we placed at the front of the booth. These partitions not only help divide the space and create a dramatic entrance to the booth, but they also act as a metaphor of the partition of India which influenced much of Anand’s work during his formative years.
While the entrance of the booth is black and white, on entering the booth, the designers played with the element of surprise by using a bright yellow splash of colour behind the large partition which is only visible once one enters the booth. This area was also used to separate Anand’s brightly coloured commercial work of vernacular book covers placed on a bespoke installation, especially designed for the India Art Fair.
The project was done in an extremely short time and involved various members of the IKD team. The team conceptualized the space and the various elements with in it; they helped bring out the overarching concept to life with their contribution to the booth design and layout as well as that of the custom book installation. A video film of Anand’s scratchboards, an e-invite and postcards featuring Anands’s scratchboards and corresponding pentimenti sketches and notes were also designed.