Akanksha 2019: 55 women artists, 500 artworks, one exhibition theme - creativity

The rise of art and design is an emerging trend in India, as seen in the growing numbers of exhibitions, venues, and community activity. Our photo essay on the annual Akanksha festival showcases some of the creative works, as well as curator and artist insights.

PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 345 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

It took five months for the 2019 edition of the annual Akanksha art exhibition to come to life, and the results were on colourful display recently at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru. The exhibition had over 500 art works by 55 women artists, and showcased for six full days.

In this three-part article (see Part II and Part III), we feature insights from exhibition curator Shyamala Ramanand as well as artists Anusha Reddy, Tanu Gupta, Sunitha Krishna, Saroj Revankar, Pareejat Gogoi, Sindhu Rani, Aakriti Agrawal, Ahila C., Suvidha Bolar, Vedha Sreeram, Yamuna Padmanaban, and Sangeeta Agarwal.

The call for submissions was made in January this year, and promoted via social media. From 250 artists, the exhibition committee selected 55 emerging artists to showcase their works for the 2019 edition. Care was taken to choose artists who were relatively new to gallery and exhibition activities, and some of them were connected to art teachers to refine their work, explains Shyamala Ramanand, in a chat with YourStory.

This is the seventh exhibition curated by Shyamala (see our coverage of her earlier exhibition, 50 Shades of Black and White). She is planning another exhibition in Bengaluru later this year, and is contemplating expanding to other cities as well.

The exhibition is intended to get audiences to overcome ignorance and even fear about art, and to show emerging artists how much more there is to learn and do, Shyamala says. “We have a diverse range of exhibitors this year, including surgeons who are as skilled with brushes as scalpels,” she jokes.

The age range was from students to senior citizens, showing that the artistic opportunity and journey is lifelong. More than half the artists sold their art works to audiences, which included art lovers, curators, gallery owners, and other curious viewers. Some of the chief guests from the police forces have also requested more artistic exposure to their staff and even to convicts, Shyamala explains.

“Art is a stress-buster and is what makes life enjoyable. Art is everything for me. Everywhere I travel, I see art. Art is anything that brings me joy and soothes my soul,” explains 3D painter Anusha Reddy. Her art works are priced between Rs. 4,000 to Rs 25,000.

She created ganjifa works for the exhibition, an ancient art form from Mysuru with painted works on playing cards. She defines success for herself as making beautiful art forms that connect to new viewers, especially if the art form is vanishing. Anusha’s other works have water as a theme; she recently experienced scuba diving in the Andamans.

She encourages audiences to visit art galleries for a soothing and inspiring experience, and to also support artists in the process. Anusha advises aspiring artists to create what they find is beautiful and worth preserving and promoting, so that it brings happiness and inspiration to others.

Tanu Gupta specialises in oil and acrylic paintings, with art works priced from Rs 1,000 up to Rs 30,000. In addition to commercial success, she values audience appreciation. “I am attracted to abstract art because it allows exploration of different kinds of textures, indefinite shapes, colours and sizes,” she explains.

Her next exhibition will be at Mumbai Art Fair in October. She advises aspiring artsists to paint what they feel from the inside and keep practicing, as practice is what makes perfect.

Oil painter Sunitha Krishna donates a portion of her sales proceeds to an NGO called Diya Ghar, which provides education to the children of migrant workers. She outlines different phases of success for an artist: acknowledgement by viewers, by other artists, and by collectors. “This world is but a canvas to our imagination,” she poetically adds, citing a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Every artist was first an amateur.”

“The price of a painting depends on the size, medium and complexity of work. One of my oil paintings fetched Rs 33,000, and another was sold for $600 to an art lover from Mexico,” Sunitha explains. It is hard to attach a specific value to an artist’s imagination, and the majority of the public do not understand this, she adds.

One of her paintings at Akanksha 2019 was titled Rhythm Divine - Sound of the Universe. It is a collection of musicians erected on a large canvas depicting the universe. “We believe Om to be the first sound of the universe, this work is a tribute to that,” she explains. Another painting is Window of Hope, featuring light which gives energy and hope for better things to come.

Future plans for Sunitha include expanding to watercolours, whose transparency she regards as both amazing and challenging. She advises audiences to be “messengers of art,” and advises aspiring artists to dedicate themselves to their work.

“There is no short cut to success, and hard work pays. Something which no one told me about when I was young, and which I feel should have been doing, is sketching. I would say, learn to sketch well; we can fill in the colours later. Art is not what you see, but what you make others see,” Sunitha signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, appreciate the wonder of art around you, and get involved in the artistic community?

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.


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