Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 450 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.
Extended till March 19, the Taj West End Art Corridor in Bengaluru is featuring an exhibition by 24 artists titled Oorja (‘energy’ in Sanskrit). See Part I and Part II of our article series, as well as three-part coverage of the 2018 edition of the exhibition.
Pune-based artist Hina Bhatt specialises in acrylic and pen on canvas. “Art to me is a journey of self-discovery and expression, and is quite meditative in nature. My subject is connecting to our roots, surroundings and teachings in the scriptures as a source of inspiration,” she explains, in a chat with YourStory.
Her works have been exhibited in India, Nepal, and Dubai. Hina runs two organisations – Arty Minds (for teaching adults and children) and Hina Bhatt Art Ventures (events platform). She regards not just sales but effective expression as a parameter of success.
“Seeing your art reaching the buyers’ wall where they would cherish it for life becomes a great boost. Even getting people to visit my shows, connect to my art, and show appreciation is a big reward for me,” she says.
She calls for more outreach for art in education, and appreciation of art on par with literature and poetry. “Art needs to be presented and explored in schools and colleges as an equally valuable asset as knowledge of words,” Hina urges.
Her artworks are priced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh. For the Oorja show, Nina displayed two works: Bonds of Strength (showing roots as source of identity and strength) and Route to Freedom (inspired by the Bhagwad Gita). She is also preparing for an upcoming art show in New York.
She compares art appreciation to the process of reading a book. “One has to look at art as one would approach a book cover – you are first visually attracted, and if you find a connect you try to explore and understand it more,” she observes.
“I always insist that art has to form a connect with the audience, and it should form a bridge to the viewer’s heart,” she emphasises.
Sunita Pavan, a Baroda University graduate inspired by nature and folk art, exhibited for the first time at Oorja this year. “For me, art is a passion to create flow and rhythm in my work,” she explains.
She works on black and white drawings with pen and paints. “I have developed my own unique style of creating drawings with fishes around the work,” she explains. Sunita’s message is to save whatever we have today for the next generation. “Give back to nature, what nature has given to us,” she urges.
She began her journey with an exhibition at Mumbai’s Jahangir Art Gallery, and has done over 20 group shows across India. Sunita is an art educator at Vidyashilp Academy in Bengaluru, teaching students the importance of art in daily life and its value via connection and therapy.
“Every day, I spend some time to create and to find a new feel in my work. Hard work is the key to success,” Sunita explains. She observes that art appreciation is growing in India, and calls for more platforms for artists to showcase their work.
Sunita’s artworks are priced from Rs 30,000 to Rs 45, 000. “At the Oorja show, the audience liked my work, some told me it is like a poem, they can write on it,” she enthuses. “Every individual has their own way of approaching and appreciating art,” she says.
Artworks made with knife have always fascinated Kanthi Jayachandran, who exhibited three paintings and two bronze sculptures at Oorja. “My paintings are of couples with motifs of nature on them,” she explains.
“I wanted to express the deep connect we have towards another human and towards nature. This harmony is what I wanted to bring out in my paintings,” she says. Her paintings are priced from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000, and sculptures are for Rs 80,000.
Kanthi has been painting for over 20 years now, and exhibited in solo and group shows. Her artworks have been placed with collectors in India and abroad. She has also been taking art classes since 2011 for adults and kids.
She observes that art appreciation is growing in India, particularly as people travel more. “But still there is a long way for us to go in investing in affordable art. People are reluctant to spend on art because they don’t know what to buy and how to go about it,” Kanthi says.
Thus, there is a lot of scope in educating people about the art world. “People who want to buy art should buy what resonates with them, so that they can always enjoy it,” she says.
Though she has a background in economics and healthcare, art is now the passion for Vanaja Pal, who exhibited for the second time at Oorja. “My theme this year as well is the Ocean of Churn,” she explains.
This refers to old cultures and civilisations giving way to new ideas and ways of life. “My style has become bolder. I like mixing abstracts with realism, and used different mediums like mount board and texture white,” Vanaja says. Her works are priced from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 38,000.
She has also exhibited at Chitra Santhe (see our coverage of six festival editions here). At Oorja, she showed works titled Hagia Sophia (Byzantine design), Babylon (Babylonian bull statue), Macedonia (sun symbol), and Dynasties (old and recent Chinese dynasties).
“Oorja 2020 was a very fulfilling experience. It was quite overwhelming sometimes when the corridor was filled with visitors and art lovers,” Vanaja enthuses. “It was wonderful to watch people’s interest being renewed when a theme behind a series was explained to them,” she describes.
There were around 200 guests on the opening night of Oorja 2020, and 800 visitors over the next ten days, according to artist, curator and educator MG Doddamani. Artists, art students, art lovers, and collectors from Karnataka and other states enjoyed the art show (see our full interview here).
There was appreciation for eminent and emerging artists, and for the visibility of women artists. “Promising artists got a good platform, which is encouraging and motivating, especially to those who are from different fields but have taken up art as their second career,” Doddamani explains.
He proudly shares some visitor comments: beautiful collection, excellent mixture of artists, visual treat, meaningful concepts, refreshing, vibrant, great hosting and explaining by artists, and enjoyable getaway from busy life.
“For the next edition, we are planning to introduce new faces and showcase their works. This includes those who are looking for opportunities, and are from remote places,” he adds. Many of them are talented but have less visibility, and will be scouted for the next exhibition.
The road ahead
Many of the artists offer tips for aspiring artists. “Paint, paint and paint. Nothing replaces the body of work you create, it’s your journey of self-expression too,” Hina says. “There is no limit to explore and experiment with art. Never stop having fun with it,” Kanthi urges.
“Create for yourself. Love yourself and have passion for art – you can find an artist in you,” says Sunita. “The only way forward is to keep oneself open to learning, believe in one’s work, and practice as much as possible,” Vanaja advises.
“Nothing is more important than hard work and dedication – one should work without expecting anything. The artwork should speak for itself, which will allow the artists to reach higher,” Doddamani signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and let your inner creative voice speak for itself?
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