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Indian women wield the brush at Art Basel Hong Kong

It is a woman's show for India at the seventh edition of Art Basel Hong Kong with the country fielding the best of its contemporary female artists, including Shilpa Gupta, Anju Dodiya and Reena Saini Kallat, at the annual event that opened to the public on Friday.

The participating galleries Chemould Prescott, Experimenter, Vadehra Art Gallery, Tarq and Gallery Space -- are also helmed by women.

Gupta's work at the Chemould Prescott Booth seeks to explore the reasons why an individual might choose, or is compelled to change their names.

Is it a form of escaping the present, or does it help rediscover oneself? Or is it merely a whim?

Through a cluster of fragmented photographs, which is part of the Mumbai-based artist's larger project work titled, The Surname Project, she tells the stories of individuals from different parts of the globe who took on different identities for factors that were sometimes political, at other times familial or even emotional.

Gupta has sliced the photographs into two, and placed them together in a distorted manner, perhaps in a reference to the distorted identities that the individuals assume at different points in time.

She has printed texts on them that tell us why Weng, someone who she interviewed during the project, changed his name. To protect their very successful family from being executed owing to a rumour created by a jealous few, all the six brothers escaped for the sake of their lives and took on new identities, the text reads.

The work also tells the stories of Toyota Hiroshi, who went back to his original name Kim Dae-Jung after the Japanese left South Korea; of Linzen Lee, who became Linzen Li after he found rest and nourishment under a li or a plum tree while he was on the run escaping the wrath of his ruler during the Shang dynasty; of Gaelic immigrants in Scotland who changed their surnames to escape the ostracism by the English colonists, and many more.

Gupta's works are also being showcased by the Delhi-based Vadehra art Gallery, which has brought two works by the artist one, a series of four monochromatic photographs titled, I want to live with no fear, and another, 100 hand drawn maps of India.

In the latter, which is a brand new work by Gupta, she sucks the viewer into the complexities of the construction and delineation of space articulated by man made borders.

The drawing carbon tracings on paper -- features numerous representations of the Indian map, drawn over each other from the memories of 100 Indian adults, making it extremely relevant considering the identity of the nation state has been emphasised repeatedly in present times.

A highly subjective interpretation of the territory of a nation sees states skipped or incorporated with territory of a nation sees states skipped or incorporated with the attitude of each author, reads the wall text beside the work.

In the photographs, which were showcased at the India Art Fair earlier this year, Gupta captures passers by holding a balloon which has I want to live with no fear written on it.

Dodiya is another artist whose works have been brought to the fair both by Chemould Prescott and Vadehra Art Gallery.

Priced at 10,000 USD, Dodiya's Heartbeat at the Chemould Prescott booth revolves around the emotional theatre of the mind. The acrylic on canvas work features two faces against a red backdrop and explores the connection between two individuals, almost as if they hear the same heartbeat.

The small-sized work becomes a tight paradox of two demarcated heads bound forever in a timeless zone of attentive listening and silent gazes, the gallery said.

Leaking Lines by Kallat is also part of the Mumbai-based gallery's show. In the collection of six works, the artist conflates the line into a symbol of international borders.

Conceived as diptychs, one part rendered in charcoal reveals the factual landscape, while the other forms a flayed fence using electric wires over paper representing the undulating terrain.

Chemould Prescott has also brought Aditi Singh's set of eight ink on paper works, a medium the artist is best known for.

Solo shows by Savia Mahajan, Zarina and Lubna Chowdhury are on display by Tarq, Gallery Espace and Jhaveri Contemporary respectively.

Gallery Space, which is showcasing in the insights sector of the fair has brought works by Zarina created over her three decade long career, including printworks, sketches and a sculpture.

"It was wonderful to showcase an artist who is internationally acknowledged by museums, collectors, said Renu Modi, founder and director of the Delhi-based gallery.

A self taught artist, Mahajan has brought works in two different mediums pen and ink on handmade recycled cloth-paper, and ceramic.

Although she started off as a painter, she began moving away from the conventional practice, because she wanted to inquire deeper into the artistic process, Mahajan said.

A series of her sculptures on show Lithified Lives include books which have been layered with clay, page by page, and burnt at 1250 degrees celsius.

Women artists being showcased by Kolkata based Experimenter include Ayesha Sultana, Nadia Kabi-Linke and Bani Abidi.

The galleries also showcased male artists.

Art Basel Hong Kong will come to a close on March 31.