90% of the Contemporary Young Artists Will Not Survive this Recession
|( K C S Paniker)|
At the Aura Art Show 2013 opening in Mumbai I meet Ganesh Gohain, a soft-spoken sculptor from Baroda. He informs me of the present state of Baroda as an art hub. From his words, I gather that most of the artists living there are in one or the other way ‘managing’ their lives. Some work in advertising agencies, some have joined schools as teachers, some live on a shoe string budget mostly supported by some kind art promoters. One of the biggest supporters of the Baroda art scene, an art gallerist from Mumbai, has temporarily closed her shutters down in Mumbai and is reported to have stopped financial assistance to many of the youngsters. From some other sources I get to know that an artist has gone to the extent of dealing in properties and someone else starting a day care centre for kids of the working parents. The more fortunate ones and more daring ones have already moved out of Baroda to find support elsewhere. It is not just the case of Baroda, but it remains more or less the same in all parts of our country.
The question that I want to raise here is not about the kind of jobs that the artists are doing these days to survive in life. On the contrary I am very appreciative about the ways of survival that they have already found out. One can do any kind of work yet survive as a creative person. For example, a young poet, Pavithran Theekkuni, in Kerala sells fish in the market and rest of the time writes poetry. He is one of the well known poets. Visual artists have somehow acquired this belief that doing any other job would kill their creativity. It was a belief system developed during a time when there was adequate patronage for art and artists. Artists could live king size life during the Renaissance period and during the Colonial period they could gain a lot of local and royal patronage. Even during the modern period, though most of the artists left the art scene for the lack of sources of survival, those who remained were patronized by benevolent patrons. But in the post-independent India patronage became a real issue. Presence of artists is directly proportionate to patronage; during the boom years patrons were in abundance so were the artists. Today, things have changed.
In 1960s, K.C.S.Paniker in Madras realized that artists could not survive without patronage. They had to eke out a decent living and for that they needed to do something related to their intimate lives. Paniker, by setting up an artists’ co-operative called Cholamandal Artists’ Village, had found a solution for the problem. He asked his disciples to create some products that caught the tourists’ attention, without pawning their creative urges. Hence without compromising their artistic values they could find sustenance and do their creative works. In fact all what they did was creative in nature; the saleable products had a creative touch as in the case of batik print clothes, jholas and so on and their creative works could eventually become aesthetical products. The Cholamandal artists had one man to show the way in K.C.S.Paniker. Today with so many artists in so many places, having a singular idea or singular leadership has become impossible. May be our times do not demand a singular leadership.
But there is something that is worth emulating in K.C.S.Paniker’s example. An artist working on a construction site and an artist working in an advertising field or teaching are two fundamentally different things. It is always advisable that one pursue a job that is closer to the creative impulse in the artist. Many of my young friends have found out such jobs. It is absolutely important to lead a dignified and decent life. We need not create art by facing materialistic problems. Artists are the future legislators who would hold philosophical clarity in life and show the way, who would eventually change the world. I do not believe that artists could become legislators in a literal sense. But they could influence the legislators. To do that they need clarity and transparency in public life. They should become soul forces that cannot be avoided by any.
|( Cholamandal Artists' Village - image for illustrative purposes only)|
Doing any job would not reduce the gravity of this soul force. Important thing is how one lives it with its pros and cons. I insist that none should suffer for art. None should create art while suffering materialistically. Having material affluence and detaching from that is what is needed. One has to create such a situation to create good art. To create such situation one has to create soul force. When I see artists go around and behave in different ways in different places (as evidenced in facebook) I pity them as they are wasting their time to impress so many powerful people thinking that they would get an opportunity. I believe, as I have seen in my own life that opportunities come to you when you have work and an integral personality. Most of the artists today, especially are bound to perish. They will not survive the onslaught of recession as they are looking for tricky ways to establish. But those ones will survive who do their work with a lot of dedication, philosophical and aesthetical clarity. To achieve that mindset one has to work hard. One has to earn a living and be patient with it. And dedicate the rest of the time to do one’s personal creative works. Art does not wait for those who complain. It happens in who does it. It may sound like a doomsday prophecy. But it is the truth.
The Trail of the Snake Tiger
|( Work on display at the show)|
The Harrington Street Arts Centre Kolkata presents an art exhibition titled, 'The Trail Of The Snake Tiger, The Gond and Bhil' that showcases the works of artists, Rajendra Shyam, Durgi Bai, Bhuri Bai, Ramanand Shyam and Subash. The artists have presented the 'Gond' tribal art and 'The Bhils of Madhya Pradesh' through this exhibition.
The 'Gond' tribal communities depict their daily expedition of life through their art forms. They believe that glancing at good images builds chances of good luck. The artworks are full of decorative patterns and ornamentation. The culture of the 'Bhils of Madhya Pradesh' reflects the influence of nature in their works. The works are simple and include paintings of the sun, moon, mythological figures, trees, insects, trees, rivers, fields and much more.
Bhuri Bai is a Bhil artist and was the first one to make use of paper and canvas for the paintings. Her paintings bring life to the canvas when she paints animals, forest, trees, deities and much more. She has been awarded with 'Shikhar Sanman'. Durgi Bai artist has the ability to narrate a story through her paintings. She is a pro at making traditional designs and excels when it comes to creating the art of 'digna'. Rajendra Shyam, through dense shade and perfect symmetry, the artist presents the Gondi tales on the canvas. His favourite colour is brown, which he uses in all shades. He provides a texture to his paintings by making use of grains and uses rope to bind them together.
The show is on view till 16th November 2013.
|( Work by Aparajita Singh)|
All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi presents a solo show of budding artist Aparajita Singh, titled, 'Nosce te Ipsum' meaning know thy self. This is the artist's first art show and she has highlighted the power of the human mind through her paintings.
The artist believes that there is enlightenment within each one of us. She draws her motivation from her surroundings and put them down on the canvas.
The show is on view till 7th November 2013.
|( Work on display at the show)|
One of the oldest and remarkable art forms in the Indian art scene, Mughal school style of painting originated around 1560 AD, mainly during Emperor Akbar’s reign. Beautifully detailed, this miniature technique has been a prime focus in Babulal Marotia’s life. After years of deeply understanding the art, Babulal began practicing it while S Shakir Ali, a seasoned artist and a national award winner has exhibited his works in various countries.
Company School method emerged mainly around eighteenth and nineteenth century. From being picturesque to exotic location, this style was used to capture the flora and fauna, landscapes, historical monuments, durbar sessions and lot more.
|( Work on display at the show)|
This exhibition is displaying art works of eminent artists like Suhas Roy, Subrata Das, Prokash Karmakar, Samir Paul, Kartick Ch Pyne, Dilip Chowdhary, Subhamita Dinda, Atin Basak, Sibsaday, Gourango Beshai and many others.
( News reports by Sushma Sabnis)