25 countries, 19 Indian states: Chitra Santhe 2021 showcases the depth and diversity of art
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 505 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.
Chitra Santhe 2021 features the works of 1,500 artists from 19 states in India and 25 countries around the world. Regarded as India’s favourite street festival for art, the 18th edition this year is being held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this photo essay series, we profile a range of artworks along with insights from the participating artists. See Part I here, featuring Somya Pathak, Aiko Higuchi, Edem Elesh, and Geeta Arya.
See also YourStory’s coverage of six earlier editions of Chitra Santhe: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, as well as compilations of Top Quotes of 2020 on Art in the Era of the Pandemic, Indian Art, Art Appreciation and Practice, and Beauty and Business of Art.
“Painting is art therapy, love, joy, fun, creating the unknown, journey within, and barrier-free where you can truly be simply you with no one to judge you,” artist Archana Patil enthuses.
She worked as an urban designer and architect for eight years in the US, and has relocated to Bengaluru. She says she turned to art for solace and comfort on her mother’s demise five years ago, and hasn’t looked back since.
“Creativity is for everyone. If you stop creating, you stop evolving. Art is a path to self-discovery,” she explains. Art is all inclusive: devotion, freedom, a pause in eternity, communication, mind-detox and soul-meditation.
A graduate of JJ School of Architecture and Washington University, she began her journey into art as a hobby to help her toddler. Archana also founded Cre8 ArtCraft Studio to teach and inspire young minds.
“Art is a medium to reach out and inspire humanity about creativity, positivity, beauty, and possibilities. Art spreads love, joy, and spirituality,” Archana says. “I am glad to carry my family’s art genes forward,” she proudly adds.
She calls for greater art appreciation in society. “Good art must be valued and encouraged by all professionals. Office spaces should be used as display galleries,” she recommends.
“For the Chitra Santhe exhibition, I prepared comforting works to help people sail through the pandemic. The spiritual calling came to me naturally. I felt positivity, faith, strength, courage, grace, and trust in the divine. Worldly detachment is the need of the COVID times, for this too shall pass,” she evocatively explains.
“The pandemic brought out the devotion and spiritual high in me, and nudged my unfinished art to fruition,” Archana says. Her artworks are generally priced from Rs 200 to Rs 50,000. “There is something for everyone’s budget,” she adds.
“During the pandemic, art provided a safe cocoon of peace, joy, patience, tolerance, gratitude, abundance, and strength,” Archana explains. “My art manifested itself like a series of beautiful, spiritually-stronger butterflies – ready to fly, reach out, and touch millions of hearts, sprinkling pollens of assurance that All is well and life is beautiful,” she says.
Having an art exhibition online is a mixed experience. “Being online, it connects the world. One gets to see and promote vast, yet unique art collections across the globe at the click of button, anywhere and anytime,” she observes.
“But what’s missing is the artist’s touch and expression, live interchanges, and the ‘happening’ social interaction between artists and their appreciators,” Archana laments.
“There is a Creator within each one of us that longs to come out and seeks to express – allow this to emerge,” she advises aspiring artists. “The key to happiness is to follow one’s heart, gut instinct, and intuition, to live passionately in the moment and never stop creating,” Archana adds.
“For me, art is a kind of expression in which I can reveal the state of my soul under the influence of lived events and life experiences,” explains Dariusz Kaca, an artist based in Poland.
“Practicing art is like a journey in a spiritual space, and it is more important to travel through it, to face its mystery, than to finally know it and reach the destination. A spiritual journey to a sanctuary is a pilgrimage,” he adds.
He regards a work of art itself as a measure of an artist’s value, irrespective of commercial dimensions or prestige. He calls for broader appreciation for art in society through children’s education and exposure to cultural institutions like galleries and museums.
For Chitra Santhe, Dariusz prepared a special set of prints. “In these linocut works, the Earth connects with Heaven not only physically, but also in pictorial themes. I draw structures that fill the gap between the elements of the microcosm and the macrocosm,” he explains. The art works are priced from $250 upward.
Though the pandemic has had an adverse effect on people’s well-being and mental state, the social isolation also opened up more opportunities for artists to reflect and create, Dariusz observes.
An online exhibition has pluses and minuses. “Certainly, more people are watching such an exhibition, but I regret that it does not always translate into the quality of reception. And the biggest drawback is that the viewer has no direct physical contact with the work,” he explains.
“Do not follow fashion or opportunism, but pursue your own dreams and give them an artistic vision. And from this you will derive the greatest joy in life,” Dariusz advises aspiring artists.
The pandemic provided new learning opportunities for many artists. “Lockdowns due to COVID-19 were a period of developing new skills for me. I have learnt about creating virtual exhibitions and published exhibition walkthroughs in my social media handles,” explains Bengaluru-based artist Bharathi Senthilvelan.
Her paintings are themed on childhood memories. “Revisiting children’s journeys and what all they miss during lockdown days gave me fresh ideas. I have tried different types of textures which could be related to childhood days,” she explains. Her artworks are priced from Rs 27,000-36,000.
“An online exhibition opens new avenues for art lovers from all over the world, as it is location-agnostic. Art collectors can review artworks from the convenience of their home,” Bharathi says, describing the virtual experience.
“However, I really miss the happiness of directly interacting with art enthusiasts during physical exhibitions. Also, physical exhibitions give the opportunity to develop new networks,” she adds.
Bharathi says she is happy with the reception received so far at Chitra Santhe. “I have received enquiries of interest. The viewers could relate to my works from their childhood days and from their own children,” she explains.
“Once normalcy is back, I wish Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath would conduct an interim Chitra Santhe on a smaller scale,” Bharathi suggests. Online exhibitions could also be set up at regular intervals as a channel for artists to meet consumers – this could give more opportunity to upcoming artists.
While most of the artworks at Chitra Santhe this time are paintings, there is diversity in themes and techniques. “I have devised my own knife techniques on canvas with different tools. They create different textures on oil and acrylic paintings,” explains William Dayabaran.
For Chitra Santhe, he presented works on canvas depicting themes like dance forms, from bharatanatyam to ballet. He is also working on an art series featuring birds. “The elegance and artistry of bird flights frozen in time perfectly expresses their feelings and emotions on canvas,” William describes.
He is also a design associate at Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Electronics City, Bengaluru. “The eminent artist KK Hebbar is my source of inspiration,” William says.
He regards art as internal exploration as well as a reflection of life. He calls for more art appreciation to expand people’s mindset and bring peace through understanding different perspectives and interpretations.
Though the pandemic has been tough for artists, William says it has helped him explore the use of different materials for art. His works for Chitra Santhe are priced from Rs 2,500 to Rs 22,000.
An online exhibition makes browsing convenient. “But aesthetically, physical exhibitions are great interactive environments,” he observes.
“Art is soul. Explore it in the time and space you have. Don't stop creating, and you will be successful,” William signs off, as advice for aspiring artists.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to harness your creativity?
Edited by Teja Lele Desai