Dreams, determination, dedication – how these GAAF artists stay on the long road to creative success
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 485 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.
In this photo essay, we share creative insights from two of the artists exhibiting at the Goa Affordable Art Festival (GAAF), Ravi Kattakuri and Sagar Naik Mule. In earlier articles, we featured interviews with Sonal Varshneya, Sitikanta Samantsinghar, Christeena Shaju, and Parimal Vaghela.
Featuring over 900 artworks by 270 artists, the Goa Affordable Art Festival (GAAF) held its third edition at the Museum of Goa. A smaller selection of these artworks was subsequently brought to Bengaluru’s RMZ Ecoworld Gallery by the RMZ Foundation.
(Note: These photographs from the exhibition were taken before the national lockdown due to the coronavirus. The visit to the exhibition was not in violation of any public safety guidelines.)
“For me, art is a reflection of life, particularly nature and rural settings,” explains Ravi Kattakuri, in a chat with YourStory. He grew up in a small village in Andhra Pradesh, surrounded by fields and farmers. He graduated from Andhra University and Shantiniketan.
“Children playing, resting or affectionately embracing animals in verdant landscapes is one of my most enduring and beautiful memories, which finds expression in my works,” he describes. “The feminine form has an important and recurring motif in my work,” he adds.
“Success has more to do with the inner satisfaction that one has done a painting well. Mostly, it’s an ideation of internal exploration,” he explains. He also teaches and has participated in workshops and art residency programmes in Japan, Greece, Switzerland, Malaysia, South Korea, and China.
Though painting is taught in many schools, very few realise that it is tough as an artist to earn a livelihood, Ravi cautions. “Most times, Indian parents want their children to study either medicine or engineering. This needs to change,” he advises.
“Art appreciation can be improved by getting children and parents to visit museums, conducting exhibitions, and making schools visit exhibitions as part of the curriculum,” he adds. More awareness will increase livelihood opportunities for artists.
Describing his creative process, Ravi says he first visualises the idea forming in his mind. “I take a concrete shape through rough pencil outline sketches on canvas, and then paint them,” he describes.
Ravi’s artworks are priced from Rs 40,000 to Rs 1.8 lakh, depending on their size. “At present I am not working on any projects due to the coronavirus pandemic,” he says regretfully.
He urges the public to cultivate habits of experiencing and viewing art. “Art doesn’t intimidate, but inspires people to appreciate the beauty of a painting. That is why many of them visit museums. Have an open mind, and don’t have preconceived notions when you visit exhibitions,” Ravi adds.
He also advises aspiring artists to be committed to their journey. “They should first have a good grounding in art, and be thorough in the basic concepts of sketching, colour palette, and drawing,” he recommends.
“They should not start quoting high prices as senior artists do, but must be gradual and be sensitive to pricing their works. They must be dedicated to the field as an artist,” Ravi sums up.
Sagar Naik Mule
Art reflects one’s surroundings and culture, but is also an exploration of the self, according to Sagar Naik Mule. “First of all, I relate it to my parents. I have seen the multiple up and down situations in my family, but they have also given me good discipline and inculcated respect about elders and society,” he recalls.
“Cultural and traditional influences of society also form along the way. This includes rural life and migration to urban settings. National and global awareness also increase. They are all related to each other. I am a part of it and exploring myself through art. This is why for me, art is Me,” Sagar explains.
His artistic journey has spanned training and education in Goa (with printmaker Viraj Naik) and Hyderabad (Sarojini Naidu School of Fine Art), as well as residencies in Punjab and Mumbai. He works with pigments, mud, wood, leaves, and even cow dung, fish scales, and snake skin.
The visual language and messages of his works feature village life and nature, which is changing fast due to modernity. “I want audiences to be aware of this rural beauty and care about what is happening to it,” Sagar says.
He combines self-portraits with depictions of village life, culture, and politics. “You can get everything in one frame and that is my signature style,” he proudly says. Though he gets requests to teach and conduct workshops, he says he prefers to be a freelance artist.
“Being an artist, and enjoying and dealing with life, is success for me,” Sagar explains. Achievements and awards give motivation and a boost of inspiration for each work. “I think professional or commercial success comes naturally when you are very keen and loyal to your work,” he emphasises.
He calls for broader appreciation and awareness about art in India. “Many people don’t know much about art beyond realistic portraits, sculpture, and idols during festivals. Or they think of art as decoration or creative nameplates,” Sagar observes. Fortunately, a number of galleries, platforms and awards are increasing visibility of new art forms and artists, and opportunities for public interaction.
Sagar Naik Mule
He was inspired to participate in GAAF when he visited its second edition in 2018. He submitted three works for the third edition, two of which won awards (Prafulla Dahanukar Award and Goa State Art Award). “All three works are from different mediums and in different styles, such as sculpture, printmaking, and drawing,” Sagar says.
He is currently researching the disappearing culture of traditions like boat making in his village in Goa, called Adpai. Seafaring stories from earlier generations are also getting lost. His village is popularly referred to as ‘kalakarancho gaav’ (artists’ village).
Sagar’s artworks are priced from Rs 1 to 1.5 lakh. He is pleased with the appreciation he received at GAAF. “One of my works was sold to a buyer in Germany. I was also selected to exhibit at the RMZ Gallery in Bengaluru. This is motivating,” he says.
He also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Nowadays, fine art seems to be seen as something fashionable. Everyone thinks that once they get admission into art college, they become an artist. That is absolutely wrong,” he cautions.
“It is not easy to be an artist. It needs courage and passion to live as an artist, and a lot of work. It takes several years and needs patience as well. Today's youngsters have lost their patience and need everything to be done as fast as possible,” Sagar laments.
“Dreaming is good but to make it possible, you need to be sincere to your work and to yourself. You need to continually experiment with your work,” he adds.
“Do not hesitate to face criticism. Try to adjust and digest failure and bad times as well. It will definitely give strength to move forward to achieve your goals,” Sagar signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new ways of exploring your creative core?