From restlessness to reflection – how these three artists cope with the pandemic through creative expression

In this photo essay, we showcase artworks and journeys of three artists. Art is about expression and exploration even during times of anxiety, they explain.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 525 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.

In this photo essay series, we profile artworks and creative insights from the participating artists at Chitra Santhe 2021. See our full 15-part coverage here.

Hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, the 18th edition of the annual art festival was held virtually from January to March this year due to the pandemic. The online exhibition wrapped up with a showcase of over 1,000 artists from India and overseas.

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: Kanchan Rathna

Kanchan Rathna

Art is about self-exploration, expression, and meditation, explains Kochi-based artist Kanchan Rathna, in a chat with YourStory. She exhibited at Chitra Santhe in 2020 as well (see our interview here).

She sees success as a combination of satisfaction, recognition, and commercial gain. “The truth is that very few artists gain all of this. I also firmly believe that the art world has enough space for everyone,” she adds.

Kanchan calls for art appreciation in society to begin right from school days. “Children are the citizens of tomorrow,” she observes. She regards events like Chitra Santhe and Art Park as good forums for artists to interact with citizens, and to improve awareness across society.

“The lockdown has been a very different experience in terms of art practice. While it gave time for reflection and exploration, it also brought about restlessness and anxiety,” Kanchan explains. Some of her projects and exhibitions were cancelled.

Artist: Kanchan Rathna

“But I particularly enjoyed a lot of shows online and artist interactions on Zoom. I taught art online to children and adults,” she adds. Kanchan’s artworks are priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 40,000.

As advantages of an online show, Kanchan points to the savings of time, finances, and energy. “But it also takes away the pleasure of interacting and engaging with the artwork and the artists, which is the main purpose of an art show,” she laments.

Kanchan also offers tips for aspiring artists. “It is very essential to remain sensitive to the goings-on around us. They constantly urge us to react, communicate and engage with society,” she observes.

“All art need not be pretty but it certainly should draw a reaction from the onlooker. It must tell a story,” Kanchan advises.

“I believe I am evolving every day, I am learning every day. The day I stop doing that, the artist in me will die,” she adds.

Supriyo Som

Art is a reflection of life and exploration of the soul for Supriyo Som. He calls for more online and offline exhibitions to increase awareness and appreciation about art in society.

He showcased ten of his water colour paintings at Chitra Santhe this year, and is already planning for next year’s exhibition – which he hopes will be offline as well. His works are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.

Artist: Supriyo Shome

Though the coronavirus pandemic led to many of his exhibition plans being canceled, Supriyo kept himself busy with his artworks. He was able to participate in online exhibitions from the convenience of his home.

“Yet, I miss the 'physical' exhibitions, because people get more interested in the artworks and interact with the artist. Online, all the paintings look the same, whether they are big or small,” Supriyo observes.

“My advice to aspiring artists is to do a lot of good work and show your paintings to audiences,” he suggests.

Koyel Maji

“For me, art is a form of divine blessing. It flows through the artist and gets a physical form to enrich our life towards progress. As an artist, my work is to keep the path transparent,” Koyel Maji poetically explains.

Completing a painting itself is a form of success. “I enjoy the journey of each painting. Gradually, when it comes close to the end, I feel extreme joy – that is success for me,” she describes.

Artist: Koyel Maji

Rather than just thinking about art, she feels art should be incorporated in the way we live our lives and look around us. “Art is a special subject, and we should practice art in our day-to-day activity. If we can awaken the artist inside us, art appreciation will improve automatically,” Koyel recommends.

At Chitra Santhe, she displayed her Mystic series of acrylic paintings on canvas. The artworks are priced from Rs 40,000 to Rs 45,000.

“In each painting, the lotus – which travels the distance from dark to light – is my main object. It represents the journey of a soul,” she describes.

“While I was searching for the concept for a long time, it suddenly came to me as an intuition,” Koyel recalls. She then sketched it and developed it into a full painting. “Once the process was finished, the full series also came out with ease,” she adds.

The pandemic was a tough time, but she kept her spirits high. “During the COVID-19 lockdown, I was first worried and disturbed. But after a few days, I started engaging myself with a little creative work. Gradually, it became a very positive and big creative spell,” Koyel recalls.

Artist: Koyel Maji

The biggest advantage of an online exhibition for her is to get the chance to visit so many artworks together so many times on a single platform. “The missing part is the environment of the exhibition hall, the various colours, and the smell of paints,” she laments.

“I was especially missing the face-to-face exchange of thoughts and ideas with viewers and fellow artists,” Koyel adds.

She also offers advice for aspiring artists. “If you are an artist, then don’t limit yourself to only artistic object creation. Spread the beauty of art through your way of living life,” Koyel signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to explore your inner creativity?

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See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Megha Reddy