Why this is a great time to be original and exciting – artist insights from Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2020

By Madanmohan Rao|15th Feb 2020
Believe in yourself and follow your own path: these are some creative tips from our fourth photo essay on Mumbai’s favourite annual arts festival.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 445 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.


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Held early every February in Mumbai, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) is one of Mumbai’s favourite celebrations of creativity. See Part I, Part II and Part III of our coverage this year, as well as our earlier articles on the festival editions of 2019, 2018 and 2017.


One of the exhibitors of contemporary design was Aman Arora, Founder of Kainaat Studio. “Art has several meanings, but I think most important for me is the aesthetic pleasure. Art can be used to convey an inner emotion or a pressing societal issue, but the overall beauty is paramount. It is important to be surrounded by objects that inspire and move us,” he explains, in a chat with YourStory.


He calls for greater appreciation of art in India. “Art needs to be democratised, so that everyone can learn to appreciate it. Art need not be seen as elitist or archaic,” he urges. Students should learn about Indian art and heritage in the global context, and its unique characteristics.


“The public should become aware of what makes a Tyeb Mehta or Padamsee artwork special.  More events like the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival should be launched,” Aman advises. Museums have a great role to play in this regard, as seen in Western countries.


As a design studio, Kainaat is known for its frescoes on wood. “This is a technique pioneered by us in India. The paintings are inspired by a mix of antiquity and mythology, painted directly on old wood,” Aman says. They are then carefully aged to produce the same effect as seen in old byzantine icons produced in Europe.


“To the onlooker, the piece looks over a hundred years old, but it is actually new. Our pieces are often inspired by a range of subjects such as pichwai paintings, murals, trade textiles, vintage carpets, old tent hangings, and our own in-house collection of antiques,” Aman adds.


The studio also specialises in accessories such as cushions, crockery and tableware, priced from Rs 250 to Rs 40,000. Some were hand-printed, others were painted. “The response at KGAF was excellent. The visitors were genuinely curious and interested in art and design,” Aman enthuses.


Displayed works included ‘The Dancing Vishnu’ in the navarasa form. “Given that it takes us three months to produce a single piece, and the high demand of our work in Delhi and abroad, we could only bring a few pieces this time,” he says.


“Art for us is the quantum of energy on which we thrive. It is something that we are passionate about and is a way of life to us,” explains Aakanksha Sinha, co-founder (with Shubha Sahay) of BulBuli Handcrafted, a firm that deals in Indian handmade paintings, art and artefacts.


“Art enables us to connect with people around us. Art is tangible, it is not just in thoughts but something which can be touched and felt. Art makes us believe in our existence,” Aakanksha adds.


She says she is pleased with the love and appreciation received at KGAF, and from their social media “family.” The festival was “very well organised,” she says.


Their company’s creations are meant to reach a larger section of society, not just the privileged few. “Art appreciation can be improved in India by making art available to the masses, and not confining it only to art galleries and elite auction houses,” she emphasises.


At KGAF, BulBuli displayed hand-painted artworks priced from Rs 100 to Rs 35,000, such as peg tables, trays, wooden panels, cut work mirrors, and canvas paintings. “We believe in utility art which has a functional value attached to it. So we created an entire range of hand painted-products which can be purchased and used by any strata of society,” Aakanksha says.


“We truly believe in that art can be transformed and embedded into functional products for every household,” she affirms. At KGAF, their “wall plates” sold very well. “Our products possess our own signature designs which we call pen crafting, to create bands called bands of joy,” she says.


Aman and Aakanksha both offer words of advice for aspiring artists. “Never doubt yourself, be original. Just believe in yourself, have fun, and be true to what you do,” says Aakanksha.


“Follow your own path, do what comes naturally to you, what inspires you, and what excites you. This is a great time to be unique, original and exciting,” Aman signs off.


Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and fully explore what is unique and original about you?


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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.