Perfection happens only after iteration: here’s what you can learn about creativity from the Akanksha 2019 artists
In Part III of our photo essay on the annual Akanksha exhibition, we wrap up our showcase of the artworks. The artists also share insights on what it takes to interpret the meaning of success, and how to progress along the way.
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 festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
The Akanksha 2019 exhibition in Bengaluru featured over 500 art works by 55 women artists. In Part I and Part II of our photo essay, we interviewed curator Shyamala Ramanand, along with some of the exhibiting artists.
The artist lineup includes Anusha Reddy, Tanu Gupta, Sunitha Krishna, Saroj Revankar, Pareejat Gogoi, Sindhu Rani, Aakriti Agrawal, Ahila C, Suvidha Bolar, Vedha Sreeram, Yamuna Padmanaban, P. Sharmila, Lakshmi Donthy, Shanthi Suraj, Poornima Yellapurkar, Shana Gokul, Neetha Prabhu, Priya Ramanathan, Sangeeta Agarwal, Sai Priya Mahajan, and Annie Anubodhi.
“Art is an expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, expressed through colours,” says Lakshmi Donthy. She defines the “4 Fs” of success for an artist: faith, followers, fame, and fortune.
In other words, success includes conviction and validation of what the artist envisions, appreciative viewers and buyers, recognition by art critics and curators, and a sustainable source of income.
Lakshmi’s art covers oil paintings, pencil sketches, and ceramics, priced in the range of Rs 2,500 to Rs 35,000. She is also working on commissioned works like portraits. She advises audiences and artists to master the art of looking and seeing, so as to sharpen observational skills.
Success for realism painter P. Sharmila comes from appreciation and feedback from the masters and senior artists who have seen her grow over the years. At the Akanksha exhibition, she showcased landscape paintings, zentangle portraits of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Durga, and a pair of oil portraits of Lord Buddha.
Exhibitions and galleries bring the artistic community together and provide useful feedback and learning experiences for emerging artists, Sharmila adds. Her artworks are priced from Rs 2,000 to Rs 15,000. “But not all my artwork has a price,” she clarifies.
“I believe that sharing my artwork is sharing happiness. I have been donating my artwork to an awareness building program Chai for Cancer, where my works are auctioned and the funds raised aid the provision of free medications for cancer patients,” Sharmila proudly explains.
Art is a source of inner peace, and evokes bliss, curiosity, and imagination in viewers, explains Neetha Prabhu. “I dream to create something impactful like my great-grandfather, Gopalkrishna Shenoy, who carved the 39-foot giant monolithic Bahubali statue placed at Dharmasthala,” she adds.
Her art works, priced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 60,000, focus on historic places rendered with acrylic and ceramic and using knife work. “I fill the gaps in the ruined structures with my imagination,” Neetha describes. For the Akanksha exhibition, she created paintings of Hampi, a portrait of her favourite comedian Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean), and a horse mural made out of paper mache.
“Paint to your heart’s content. Create art every day, this will help you discover your own style of painting,” she advises aspiring artists.
Sculpture effects using graphite and charcoal form the unique style of Poornima Yellapurkar, whose art works are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 30,000. At the Akanksha exhibition, she featured works titled Adi Yogi and Blind Love. She advises aspiring artists to follow the path of passion, practice, and patience.
“Art, the simple three-letter word, encompasses a wide gamut of thoughts, ideas, and definitions in its own language,” explains Shana Gokul. “I am always surprised by how one painting can have so many different interpretations for so many different people,” she observes.
She makes sure to take a few minutes out of everyday life to observe, absorb, and appreciate her beautiful surroundings. “I think there is a little bit of art in everything around us, and to be able to capture that art in its most honest form on canvas is what fascinates me,” Shana says.
She sees art as a mix of storytelling and understanding of the self and surrounding world. Her art works reflect her formative years growing up in scenic Kerala. Some of her paintings are titled The Peaceful Excitement and The Cherries, and are priced from Rs 3,000 to Rs 15,000.
Nature can be very inspiring for human relationships. “The way the waves crash onto the stones in an unending series of hugs is not just beautiful in itself, but a great reminder to human beings on how to build and maintain relationships,” Shana poetically describes.
“This is an exciting time in the history of art in India, with the rise of artist platforms and media coverage,” she observes. “There is no one mantra for success and there is no one measurement for success,” Shana says, as advice to artists.
“Success is a goal post that changes at different stages of your art journey. You have to define your own measure of success and strive to achieve it. Clarity of thought, a strong foundation in techniques, good networking, and a good tutor or mentor go a long way in making the journey more pleasantly memorable,” Shana sums up.
“Art takes me deep inside to a meditative state. In a way, I'm not making the painting, the painting is happening. This brings me to the centre of my soul,” explains Annie Anubodhi, whose works at the exhibition were a tribute to all women's inner goddesses. Her art works are priced from Rs 1,000 to Rs 50,000.
“Never focus on the destination. You should enjoy the journey, and love the process. If you are enjoying the process, whatever the destination, it shall be beautiful,” she advises audiences. “All of us are creators in reality. Get out of your way – go beyond that initial fear, the hesitations, the judgments,” she offers as tips to aspiring artists.
“Life is an invitation, go explore without holding back. There is an opportunity to be creative in every single step. By and by, you will discover your creative expression, bringing you fulfillment,” Annie sums up.
“Art is highly therapeutic and a great way to relieve stress and frustration. There is no dull moment while painting or sketching,” says Priya Ramanathan. She gave up her earlier career to switch full-time to art, and owns an art space called ‘Hues & Tones Art Studio,’ where classes and workshops are conducted.
Success for Priya means having a positive impact on others, spreading joy through art classes, and donating paintings or sharing profits at charitable art events. She works with acrylic, oil, graphite, and resin; her art works are priced from Rs 1,000 to Rs 15,000.
She has a special liking for Indian art forms such as madhubani, gond, warli, and Kerala murals. At Akanksha 2019, she featured works titled Transition and Coral Dusk.
“It is highly fascinating to interact with folk artists from different states and listen to folklore about culture and customs. There are many beautiful folk art forms in India that are not given enough attention,” Priya laments, calling for more awareness about such art.
She urges audiences to consider the idea, thought process, and effort behind art works before jumping to judgments. “It would be great if art viewers would interact with artists to understand their views on each painting. I personally believe that no art is bad art, it is all about perspective,” Priya explains.
Having an open mind can lead to pleasant surprises. The view that art is either a luxury or non-essential item prevents many people from appreciating its power to uplift moods and transform spaces, she adds. Priya also advises aspiring artists to regularly improve and innovate.
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“Art for me is an inner peace, meditation and passion to explore my own inner belief,” says Sangeeta Agarwal, who has been painting and sketching since childhood. Today, social media has opened up opportunities for her in conducting workshops, doing commissioned art, and exhibiting in group shows.
Sangeeta has always liked experimenting with realistic and contemporary styles, and enjoys doing portraiture paintings in any medium. For Akanksha 2019, she showcased watercolours titled Forest, Chirping Woods, Siblings, and Sweet Harmony. Her artworks are priced from Rs 3,000 to Rs 30,000.
“Every human spirit is an exceptional and beautiful soul, and art viewers can find that in every artist’s painting,” she explains. Sangeeta also offers advice for aspiring artists. “Believe in yourself; hard work and perseverance pays. Communication and socialising with people of similar interest helps,” she recommends.
“Art to me is not just a process of self-expression but also that of self-discovery. At times it also serves as a cathartic release. It’s something that you can connect to, like having found a close friend,” says Sai Priya Mahajan. She is an engineer from IIT Bombay and was a member of startups in the past; she now has a studio in Indiranagar, and works with watercolours, acrylics and inks.
Through her art, she aims to take viewers to a different world altogether where they can feel the entirety of their emotions and experiences. Defining what success is for an artist can be tricky, she adds. “The more we do, the more does the goalpost shift. At the core, it is the process of doing and the journey that matters more to me than the end goal,” Sai explains.
She has been inspired by subjects around her in the cities she has lived in, such as the serenity and liveliness of Chandigarh and the fast-paced and undying spirit of Mumbai. For the Akanksha exhibition, smaller artworks were chosen with subjects that “shout colour, texture and joy,” Sai says. Her works are priced from Rs 2,000 to Rs 50,000.
“The world needs artists to keep it fresh and alive. Imagine a world sans art: there would be no music, no humour, no interesting interpretations of mundane life,” argues artist, poet and gardener Subhashini Chandramani.
“To me art means creativity. To know that there is something that I can interpret in my own way through my medium of expression gives me thrills beyond words,” she adds. Success for her depends on being recognised for the ingenuity of her art and the years of hard work she has put in.
Subhashini’s art works are priced from Rs 3,500 to Rs 25,000. One of her botanical art projects is aptly titled The Garden Art Journal, a creative mix of sketches and leaves, twigs, and grass. She is also working as a cover artist for another book.
“Art is the antidote for unhappy work,” Subhashini adds. She advises aspiring artists to keep creating and being original. “One has to keep on working to find the right piece. The work may feel the same, but perfection happens only after many iterations,” she signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, reflect on what success really means for you, and reinvent yourself?
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