How art demolishes the walls between people – Subodh Kerkar, Goa Affordable Art Festival

In this four-part photo essay, we feature highlights from the third edition of GAAF, along with founder insights. Select artworks were also brought to Bengaluru by the RMZ Foundation.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 460 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.

The third edition of the Goa Affordable Art Festival (GAAF) was held from December 2019 to February 2020. A selection of the artworks was brought by RMZ Foundation to Bengaluru’s RMZ Ecoworld Gallery last month.

Dr Subodh Kerkar is the co-founder of GAAF and founding director of the Museum of Goa, which is also the venue of the festival. GAAF aims to provide quality art at affordable prices, and encourage a broad range of audiences to engage with art.

Subodh is a qualified medical professional who gave up medicine to pursue the arts more than 25 years ago. He founded the Museum of Goa in 2015 to celebrate the history and culture of Goa. It draws audiences and artists from across India and overseas.

The 2017 and 2018 editions of GAAF reportedly generated Rs 40 lakh in sales of artworks, and the festival is now a regular fixture in the annual art calendar. Goa is also host to the annual Serendipity Arts Festival (see our eight-part coverage of the 2019 edition here).

Art awareness

Only about one lakh citizens in India are familiar with the works of leading contemporary artists, Subodh explains, in a chat with YourStory. “I once addressed a session at a literary festival with an audience of 1,500, which included architects and designers. I read out the names of ten top artists of India, and asked how many in the audience had heard their names,” he recalls.

Only around 25 people raised their hands. “I asked how many of them would be able to recognise the artworks of these renowned artists, and only three people kept their hands up,” Subodh adds.

“I am not blaming them. They need opportunities to connect to these artists and their works,” he clarifies. His art initiatives are thus intended to make people become aware of art, as well as to promote emerging artists.


Subodh founded the Goa Affordable Art Festival to address both sides of this equation. “More artists need to be connected to more audiences. Cultural barriers need to be removed,” he urges.

For the third edition of GAAF, over 1,200 artists from across India submitted artworks. “A committee helped select 900 artworks from the pool of 10,000 submissions,” Subodh explains.

To broaden the exposure of these artworks, it was decided to bring them to other cities as well. The partnership with RMZ Foundation brought it to Bengaluru in March this year.

“I will not be taking commission from the sales of these art works, the aim is to promote them to wider audiences and increase appreciation for art. We are promoters of art, not dealers,” Subodh affirms.

In Part I and Part II of this photo essay, we showcase some of the GAAF artworks displayed at the Museum of Goa. In Part III and Part IV, we will feature the selection displayed at RMZ Ecoworld in Bengaluru, along with insights from Anu Menda, Managing Trustee, RMZ Foundation.

Exhibiting artists include Mustafa Khanbhai, Subodh Kerkar, Siddharth Kerkar, Parimal Vaghela, Rajinder Kaur Pasricha, TM Yadhukrishnan, Madhav Vyas, Vartika Singh, Savithru, Shahnawaz Siddiqui, Surabhi Gaikwad, Sandeep Ashok Ghule, Uday, and Kandula Pradeep Kumar. Some of the artworks are priced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1.3 lakh.

(Note: These photographs were taken before the national lockdown due to the coronavirus, and the visit to the gallery was not in violation of any public safety guidelines. In future editions of this column, we will explore the response of the artistic community to the COVID-19 crisis.)

A higher purpose

“The arts represent the work of civilisations. They are more than just decorations for walls and halls,” Subodh evocatively affirms.

“Art demolishes the walls between people,” he explains. During times like the current crisis, art provides emotional relief, opens up new perspectives, and reminds us of a higher purpose in life.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative core during these turbulent times?

Subodh Kerkar (at IAF 2020)

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