From collaboration to curation: how this artist-gallerist promotes Indian talent and creativity

In this photo essay, we share highlights from three recent CKP exhibitions, along with insights on path and purpose from curator Sonu Mulchandani

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 430 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.

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru recently hosted two exhibitions titled Saturnalia and Kaleidoscope, as well as another showcase by Subash Thodayam and Kolkata’s Contemporary Group. We feature highlights from the exhibitions in this two-part photo essay, along with artist and curator insights (see Part I here).

The exhibition by Contemporary Group was curated and inaugurated by artist-gallerist Sonu Mulchandani, founder of e-Studio. “We put together the works of 11 seasoned contemporary artists, where each of them had perfected their unique styles,” she explains, in a chat with YourStory.

The lineup included Chandana Khan, Dhiren Shasmal, Babu Jatkar, Rajib Sur Roy, Utpal Ghosh, Subrata Ghose, Joydeb Bala, Ayndrila Chatterjee, Jayanta Ghose, Anuradha Rishi, and Subrata Karmakar. Sonu has worked with these artists over a number of years, and has familiarised herself with their latest pieces and projects.

The artworks are priced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh, and span a wide range of styles and themes. For example, they include Chandana Khan’s geometric light projection, illustrator Dhiren Shasmal’s display of impressionism, pen art by Babu Jatkar, and vintage paintings in contemporary forms by Subrata Ghose.

There are also meditative vibrant colours by Rajib Sur Roy, geometric abstracts by Utpal Ghosh, strokes on the divine by Ayndrila Chatterjee and Jayanta Ghose, miniature paintings by Anuradha Rishi, and bronze sculptures by Subrata Karmakar.

“As an independent curator, my journey has been incredible. Not only do I enjoy the spectacular minds of thousands of artists, but I am also humbled to receive their love and support,” Sonu enthuses. Art has added depth to her life, and every exhibition has been a moment of profound realisation, she adds.

Curation involves immersion in the styles, messages and techniques of the artists. “I would have enjoyed over a million artworks by now. It has been blissful to live through moments of aesthetic high,” Sonu gushes. Her travels have taken her to explore art forms across India, Egypt, Turkey, the UK, the US, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, and the Middle East.

“All of this leaves me with one understanding: in India, art is not just a luxury. It is a belief system and celebration that empowers our country,” Sonu explains. As trends in India, she points to the rise of art festivals, corporate sponsorships, and government funding.

For example, the Tourism Department of Karnataka is actively supporting art festivals as part of the tourist experience, in addition to heritage sites. India offers art buyers a wealth of talent in traditional and contemporary art, Sonu adds.

As a curator, she defines success not just in terms of awards or recognition, but by the growth and success of her artists. “It gives immense satisfaction to see artists develop their own unique styles through art camps and exhibitions. Seeing a budding artist turn into a senior artist and win acclaim gives me inner joy,” Sonu explains.

Her next projects are Affordable Art India, and the Moving Art Festival. These include online platforms, creative spaces, art workshops, and exhibitions in retail locations across the country. The target price range is Rs 200 to Rs 15,000.

Sonu is also involved in promoting Japanese art in India, such as the works of contemporary painter Shukou Tsuchiya next month. She calls for greater appreciation and education about art in India, through online channels and offline events.

“Art is a universal language, it influences the future and helps us understand the present. The work of artists should be promoted across a range forums and festivals,” she urges. She also offers tips for aspiring artists.

“Art is about permanence as well as continuity. Every artist should adapt, embrace and progress in learning new skills. This will help ideate, upscale, and carry forward the legacy of art. Artists should be responsible for the progressive evolution of society,” Sonu signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and re-channel your energies to your creative sides?

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