Online art exhibitions in the pandemic era: creative insights from the Chitra Santhe 2021 artists
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 a jazz festival.
The 18th annual Chitra Santhe exhibition features the works of 1,500 artists from 19 states in India and 25 countries around the world. The virtual exhibition is hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru till the end of January. The festival website provides artist contact information and artwork prices.
In this photo essay series, we profile a range of artworks along with insights from the participating artists. See Part I, Part II, and Part III of our coverage, featuring Somya Pathak, Aiko Higuchi, Edem Elesh, Geeta Arya, Archana Patil, Bharathi Senthilvelan, Dariusz Kaca, William Dayabaran, Ashrith V, Binod Pradhan, Gayatri Sivaramakrishnan, and Harini Narayan.
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.
Artist: Dipti Madhukar Thakare
“I feel that the world around is a cacophony of images — the good and the bad, the sweet and the ugly — all intermingled to create our visual plane. Art to me is a means to segregate this madness into clearer, simpler visuals,” explains Abhishek Deheriya, in a chat with YourStory.
Art is a tool for him to highlight the best in our world. He sees success as an artist in being able to do justice to his subject. “Success is when my art can move people to emotions they did not know they could experience, and when I can preserve the ‘Best of Now’ for the world to see for generations,” he enthuses.
He calls for more mainstream conversation in society about art. “This will bring a new dimension to Indian art, and open up newer avenues for artists to reach bigger markets and audiences,” he observes.
Based on his earlier experiences at Chitra Santhe, Abhishek prepared a diverse range of artworks. They are priced from Rs 10,000 upward, depending on the size and complexity of the subject.
The coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected the art market and driven commissions lower. “But, it did give me the much-needed time and space to introspect and reinvent my art and to adapt to the changing times,” Abhishek explains.
Artist: Abhishek Deheriya
Though an online exhibition cannot replicate the experience of physical interactions, he is pleased that Chitra Santhe is being held virtually for a whole month instead of just one day. “A month-long display gives better visibility, and people can interact in an unhurried manner,” he observes,
“I feel we have stumbled upon an excellent means of displaying art. In parallel to physical exhibitions, online exhibitions are here to stay, and will do a lot to take the cause of art further,” Abhishek predicts.
“Feel your art, trust your instincts, and keep doing it because you love it. Soon, success would find you no matter where you are hiding,” he advises aspiring artists. “I strongly feel that awards and commercial success follow naturally when you love what you do,” Abhishek adds.
“Art has been part of my life since childhood. I always knew that I would be an artist. It gave me a lot of fun then. Now, I also find other values there,” explains Polish artist Agata Nowak.
“For me, it is a kind of conversation with myself and the world, and a search for spirituality in its shortest form,” she adds. “Just painting a picture, a good picture – is a reward in itself. If someone also likes it and wants to have it – it completes the success,” she says.
Agata calls for broader art appreciation in society through early education. “When someone loves art as a child, she or he will need art for the whole life,” she emphasises. For aspiring artists, she advises hard work and daily persistence.
Artist: Agata Nowak
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the creative industry. “When I'm painting in the studio, I always need peace and seclusion. However, as a teacher, I see a lot of limitations. Students work alone at home, and it's hard to teach them,” Agata laments.
Though physical exhibitions have their clear advantages, she also sees the online version as a good introduction and advertising for art. “Some artistic techniques can look good online, such as film, photography, and design graphics,” Agata observes.
“Art to me is beauty, sensitivity — a way to express myself, my feelings, and my thoughts,” explains Pune-based award-winning artist Qureysh Basrai. His journey goes back to his first sales of artworks to Mumbai’s Taj Art Gallery at the age of 14.
“At different stages of my life, success meant different things. Feelings of pride changed to the appreciation of beauty in my surroundings and a desire to put it down on canvas. Subsequently, commercial success and winning of awards have boosted my self-esteem,” he recalls.
Qureysh calls for art appreciation to begin at an early age, with parental and teacher support. “Unfortunately, today’s curriculum does not allow enough time for interest for art,” he observes.
Artist: Qureysh Basrai
For Chitra Santhe, he depicted horses and landscapes. “They give me a feeling of serenity and satisfaction. Because of coronavirus, my interior business was bad, so I had a lot of free time. Hence, I had time to restart my passion for painting, so it was a blessing in disguise,” he recalls.
Online exhibitions give artists wider exposure. “What’s missing is the physical connections and the appreciation in the eyes of visitors when they see my paintings, and the personal interaction where they express their feelings about the paintings,” Qureysh observes.
“I picked up my brush after a gap of 30 years, so my advice to the aspiring artists is to go straight ahead with your creativity and don’t leave a gap in it,” he says.
“Art is an exploration of the soul. Every art reflects the thoughts of an individual artist. Through my works, I try to represent nature in a simplified and minimal form with texture and colour,” explains Ramana Akkiraju.
He is glad that social media has emerged as an encouraging platform for artists. He urges companies, NRIs, and government to support more art initiatives in galleries and promote practicing and upcoming artists.
“Through my work, I want to say that everything in nature has its own beauty, whether it is a caterpillar or a butterfly. In my works, I have experimented with acrylic colours and mixed media on canvas,” Ramana explains. His artworks are priced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 50,000.
Artist: Ramana Akkiraju
Though the pandemic affected art exhibitions, it gave him time to work more on his ideas. “Somewhere, it has changed my ideology too. I tried to represent it in my works,” he adds.
“Physical presentation of art in exhibitions gives a clear idea of the artist's work. However, online shows give global access to people, who otherwise may not have visited the show,” Ramana observes.
“Only a person with real passion towards art, with loads of patience and commitment to never give up, can become an artist. Overnight success cannot be expected,” Ramana signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?
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