'Success is making your business sustainable, exciting, and breaking boundaries' - Shalini Biswajit, co-founder, Forum Art Gallery
In Part II of our photo essay on this art gallery in Chennai, we share curator insights on art as passion and profession.
PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 245 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Founded in 1997 by artist Shalini Biswajit and cartoonist Biswajit Balasubramanian, Chennai’s Forum Art Gallery features a wide variety of paintings and sculptures (see Part I of our photo essay here). The gallery has showcased artists such as Puneet Kaushik, Ramesh Gorjala, Ravi Kanth Masuram, S Hemalatha, Santosh Kotagiri, Sarla Chandra, Seema Kohli, Sisir Sahana, Srinivas Reddy, Thejomaye Menon, Thota Tharani, and Vasantha Raja.
Past exhibitions have been titled Theatre of Life, Diving Bovine, Transfigurations, Bucket Show, Resist, Looking Beyond, Concurrence, Ras Leela, Music Musings, Humorology, Leaving a Mark, Reconnections, Deccan Musings, Woman@rt, Herbs Within, Functional Art, Utsav, and Feminie.
Creative initiatives include pairing of fine arts with performing arts, with musicians such as Balamurali Krishna, Madhav Chari, Anil Srinivasan, Sikkil Grucharan, and dancers like Anita Ratnam and Malaysia’s Ramli Ibrahim. For example, to celebrate Madras Week 2018, artists N.S Manohar and A.Viswam were invited to present works themed on Mylapore, Marina and Traffic, in dimensions set at 1X1, 2X1 and 2X2 feet.
“Having a Masters’ degree in Fine Arts, starting an art gallery was my preferred career choice. Today, I strap a dual career, as an artist, a painter and a sculptor engaged in my own creative space, and a gallerist,” explained gallery co-founder Shalini Biswajit, in a chat with YourStory.
Her husband Biswajit is a cartoonist whose work is widely exhibited in India. They started the gallery as a platform for emerging and established artists, and a forum for art workshops, symposiums, art classes and related ideas.
“There were only a few galleries in Chennai in 1997, and Forum fitted a niche that catered for first time and seasoned collectors,” recalls Shalini. “Forum Art Gallery stands today as one of the country’s distinguished and well-defined centres of contemporary art,” she proudly says.
Endorsing the computer as an artistic tool, the gallery has braced itself to present new media and digital installations that enhance the viewer experience. “The gallery pledges to promote young and established artists to create a greater drive towards the popularisation of the arts,” Shalini affirms.
“Our space is versatile and is transformed with every show. Expressing an idea in more than one medium provides rich documentation and the coming together of people from varied backgrounds,” explains Shalini. The gallery’s ongoing art education program for children and adults is called ARTINK.
“The gallery is also associated with charitable organisations and hospitals. It reaches out to physically challenged and terminally ill children and imparts art therapy to facilitate healing and well being, making it a unique progressive gallery in the Indian visual artscape,” Shalini says.
The gallery has been part of the Madras Week festival since its inception years ago, and curates art exhibitions specific to the city. The Chennai Photo Biennale has held its first edition last year, with the next slated for February 2019.
“Success to me for the past 21 years has been defined by personal satisfaction, knowing that our business is sustainable, exciting, breaking boundaries with exhibitions and artists and the fact that the gallery is a relevant contributor to the artscape in India,” says Shalini.
Commenting on the visibility of art in India, she says art appreciation will be improved if there are credible platforms by which audiences can engage with modern and contemporary Indian art. Corporate funding, government support, and art galleries play a key role here.
“Galleries have a huge responsibility to carry the mantle and to make art inclusive to first time collectors and seasoned buyers through exhibitions, symposiums and workshops that engage with the audience,” Shalini says.
She advises audiences to approach art with an open mind, since art is subjective and allows itself to many interpretations. “A gallery would be an ideal guide to take one through various art platforms, styles and genres,” she explains.
“Be true to yourself and stay focused on creating art that stems from personal inspiration,” Shalini signs off, as advice for aspiring artists.
Now what you have done today to draw on your personal inspiration and promote your creative side?
Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!