Dedication, perspective, reinvention: what we can learn about creativity from these artist-entrepreneurs
In this pictorial essay, we showcase the paintings, photographs and ceramic works from the recent exhibition at Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery.
PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the previous 300 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.
Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery recently hosted an exhibition titled, Here Among the Disappearing, in partnership with the nine-day Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF). See YourStory’s coverage of the 2018 and 2017 festivals, as well as the 2019 edition (organiser insights, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).
Curated by Rivka Sadarangani, the exhibition featured the works of five artists: Sucheta Ghadge (wood-ply works reflecting irrigated fields), Shayonti Salvi (ceramic sculptures of nature forms), Meghna Patpatia (surreal dreamscapes), Harikrishna Katragadda (cyanotype prints), and Dhiman Chatterjee (photographic renditions of leaves).
“Art is an expression and a way of engaging with observations around us that others may or may not notice,” said Meghna Patpatia, in a chat with YourStory. She studied painting at JJ School of Art, and museology and art restoration at the Prince of Wales Museum. She is also an artist in residence at What About Art Residency (WAAR) in Bandra.
Exhibiting one’s works helps grow and engage with diverse minds, she explains, describing the show at Jehangir. “It was interesting to note how varied perceptions can be. There are so many ideas and thoughts that people share with you about your own art, which may give rise to a new perspective as an artist,” Meghna adds. But she was disappointed that some visitors touched the displayed works, perhaps reflecting lack of education in India about appropriate conduct in an art gallery.
Her exhibited works are ink drawings on paper, pasted on textile. Meghna uses techniques like transverse orientation to draw themes of development and habitat. She is currently working with an architect on creating a commissioned art work for a commercial space, and has been invited to Hyderabad for an art residency with Kalakriti Art Gallery.
As tips for aspiring artists, she recommends authenticity and dedication. “If you want to create art, you must dedicate enough time to it and be true to your interests and style of expression,” Meghna advises.
Photographer Dhiman Chatterjee’s works push the boundaries of nature art. He gathers leaves from his travels across India, and lets them dry in his home. “When the leaves dry, they change colour and the veins contract or extend. That gives me the dimensions I want,” he explains, describing his one-year project.
“Art is an inner exploration as well as a way to address social concerns,” says Hari Katragadda. The Mumbai-based artist has a master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin. His current work explores alternative forms of traditional cyanotype photography, and his works are priced at around Rs 60,000.
Exhibiting in the gallery at the same time as KGAF meant that he had a wide range of audiences, some of whom were kids who had never stepped into a gallery before. “There were new viewers who may have had no prior exposure to gallery art due to lack of awareness, or even intimidation,” Hari explains.
Some of the reactions were like 'Why is this art', or 'I can also do this', he jokes. “That’s understandable. This art may not fit usual descriptions of beauty, but it got responses and became a topic of conversation, which is a good start,” Hari says.
He also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Success is not an overnight game. It takes years of learning and application, and involves daily practice. Be aware of other related forms of art and contemporary trends. These influences will seep into your work and make it richer,” he advises.
“What amazes me about ceramics is its use of all the five elements of nature,” says Shayonti Salvi, who started off as an interior designer and then shifted to ceramic sculpture. Sculpting with ceramic requires a fair sense of spatial reasoning and the fundamentals of structural stability, she adds.
“Ceramic sculpture must be viewed as a contemporary art form, not just a craft. It is a medium on par with any other that allows artists to express their views,” Shayonti explains.
Her current artworks are explorations of shell forms and seed pods. “I am interested in seeing the nuances of the ceramic medium in my work: the crackles, cracks, stretches, and rough edges excite me when they come through,” Shayonti says.
“My love of nature has led to being aware of global implications related to nature,” she adds; she is also an avid traveler and scuba diver. As tips to aspiring artists, she stresses on dedication, investment, and marketing.
“While it all sounds very exotic, one must know that art is very hard work. For starters, unlike other art media, ceramics needs a fair bit of capital for equipment and studio set up. I am constantly on the lookout for avenues where I can sell, including objects that sell faster than sculptures, like tableware,” Shayonti says.
“I need to keep reminding myself that marketing my products is as important as making them, if my studio is to be sustainable. A lot of my energy goes into this aspect, because it is not something that comes naturally to me,” she explains; she is also trying her hard at being an art curator.
Now, what have you done today to explore your creative side, and bring your works out to the daylight of public opinion?
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