Learn from the experts but blaze your own trail – what these three Chitra Santhe artists teach us about creativity

In this photo essay, we showcase the journeys of three artists. Be in tune with your environment – but nurture your own voice, they advise.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 520 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 12-part coverage here.

Hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, the 18th edition of the annual art festival was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The online exhibition wrapped up last month, and featured 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: Subhajit Paul (i)

Subhajit Paul

“Art is a means to communicate with my conscience, to explore and extract the better of me, a means to communicate with society,” explains Subhajit Paul, an artist from Guwahati, Assam, in a chat with YourStory.

“I paint in almost all media, but watercolour is my favorite medium. The unexpected outcome of this medium and even accidental effects make it the most challenging, and hence always fascinates me,” he adds.

Subhajit’s artworks are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000. Some of his works are titled Another day with little hope, Show must go on, Little rest, The Home, Flower plucking, Shady stairs, and Towards school.

Artist: Subhajit Paul (ii)

“Simplicity and rootedness to the soil are two mantras of my life and they are revealed in my works, thoughts, and paintings,” Subhajit adds. He has won a range of awards from the Camel Art Foundation, Nirmaan Art Foundation, Abhibandana Art Exhibition, and Chief Minister of Assam. His paintings have been exhibited and recognised overseas as well.

“Success comes first from internal exploration, though commercial sales help sustain the paintings,” Subhajit explains.

He calls for more art appreciation in society through exploration and critical analysis. “Viewers should be encouraged to communicate with artists, interpret the broader context, and analyse their skills and techniques,” he advises.

Though the lockdown was tough for the whole world, Subhajit drew important lessons from the pandemic. “The virus and lockdown taught us many things. I kept myself busy painting and attending online workshops and competitions,” he recalls.

“My painting titled The Pandemic was appreciated by many. It depicted the life of people whose economic backbone got devastated by the series of lockdowns. It was awarded first prize by MONON, an Assam state government initiative under the National Health Mission,” he proudly says.

Though the online exhibition of Chitra Santhe was convenient and definitely safe, Subhajit says he missed the journey to the festival and the chance to meet viewers and buyers. “An online exhibition can never be a good substitute,” he explains.

Artist: Subhajit Paul (iii)

He also offers tips to aspiring artists. “The moment you start seeing the beauty in everything, you get freedom,” Subhajit explains.

“See and appreciate art in everything. Painting is a wonderful journey, a festival in itself. Enjoy it to the fullest as an artist,” he says.

“Follow the work of masters, but create your own unique style. Hard work and dedication will obviously be rewarded. Lastly, stop talking and keep painting,” Subhajit advises.

Joanne DeBrass

“We go through life thinking a lot about awareness, consciousness, and control. But for me, art is a means to be totally spontaneous, to let my subconscious take over, to renew and refresh my inner being – almost more than food, air and water do,” explains Joanne DeBrass, an artist who shuttles between Bengaluru and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

“Art links me to the divine, to something transcendental, taking me away from the mundane and analytical motions of daily life,” she adds.

Artist: Joanne DeBrass (i)

“Music, dance, and the play of light touch my soul and play a big role in my art. This rhythm of motion is visible in my art, in the brushstrokes, the choice of colours and shapes,” Joanne describes.

“I like to capture the light (and therefore shade) in nature, the light in people's souls, the passion they feel doing the things they love,” she explains. She hopes this connection with passion and light is something viewers take away from her artworks.

Success for her comes from creation, flow, and learning. “Success means that I am creating what I love; that the creativity is flowing, not stagnant; that I am growing in my artistic expression, learning something new, experimenting with different media, and expressing new subject matter,” Joanne explains.

She has also worked as a freelance graphic designer, children's book illustrator, artist, and art and dance instructor. “My world revolves around creativity in various formats,” she describes.

“It's easy to forget what one truly wants to create for oneself. Success for an artist is a fine balance between creating what one loves and managing the artistic expectations of one's clients,” Joanne cautions.

Artist: Joanne DeBrass (ii)

She calls for more art residencies to promote the understanding between countries and cultures. “More attention needs to be paid to educate adults and children about art, art history, art styles, and techniques,” Joanne advises.

“One must also learn how to break away from existing art theories to be truly creative. Art is what gives people joy, when the world around them is not such a happy place,” she describes.

For Chitra Santhe, Joanne exhibited a range of water colour landscapes and dancers in motion. Her artworks are priced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 45,000.

 

“Dance is a means of escape from reality, especially during the hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic. My message to the viewer is to believe that it is still possible to find beauty and connection in dancing alone or with a partner,” Joanne explains.

She also participated in Art Battle Bangalore in 2020. At this live event, 12 chosen artists battled to finish a large painting in 20 minutes, in front of a large audience.

“I have been chosen to participate in the Colorfield Performance 2021 in the Netherlands. During this six-month art event, over 400 artists will be creating live art, out in an open field,” Joanne describes. It attracts around 35,000 visitors every year.

Though the pandemic led to a period of isolation, she became prolific in experimenting with new techniques and creating new works. “I found a lot of online life drawing classes on Instagram, and now have the opportunity to draw live models from around the world,” Joanne explains.

Artist: Joanne DeBrass (iii)

“It's amazing how one was completely isolated physically, but yet at once was connected to a world of fellow artists online. It was also an important time to connect to family and make them feel connected even when they could not meet you in person,” she recalls.

“These were my lessons of the pandemic: learn to connect to your inner self, and learn to stay connected to others despite the distance,” Joanne explains.

Though she appreciated the global reach of the online edition of Chitra Santhe, she misses the physical presence. “There is a certain joy that comes from standing in front of a real-life artwork, seeing the textures, viewing it from different angles, and experiencing what the artist might have seen themselves. This is something that cannot be achieved in an online exhibition,” she laments.

“To those who would love to create art, I'd say: Just start creating, everyday! Be curious and constantly learn about different art skills and materials,” she suggests.

“Find your sweet spot, and focus on what you like to do. Create with passion and don't compare yourself to others,” Joanne sums up.

Kishan Kappari

“Art is a reflection of life and exploration of the soul. I am inspired by cultural and social activities that get reflected in daily life experiences,” explains Kishan Kappari, an artist and art instructor at Balabhavan, Telangana.

Many of his works depict women, their costumes, and plaited hairs during the festival of Bathukamma from Telangana. His artworks are priced from Rs 13,500 to Rs 35,000. He has had shows in venues such as Amdavad ni Gufa, the underground art gallery in Ahmedabad, as well as at Dubai Art Fair and other exhibitions in Malaysia and the US.

Artist: Kishan Kappari (i)

In addition to recognition from the art community, Kishan has won a range of awards such as a gold medal by the Hyderabad Art Society. He calls for greater art appreciation in society, right from school years.

“Government and private sector initiatives are needed here. Parents should also take children regularly to museums, monuments, and galleries to appreciate history, arts, and culture,” Kishan recommends. This will help broaden awareness of the beauty and happiness of art.

Fortunately, his health was not affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and he carried on with his artworks, receiving many enquiries online as well. “It felt wonderful to receive such opportunity to take my work to another level,” Kishan says.

Though he appreciates the convenience of online exhibitions, he misses the interaction with audiences and other artists in a physical exhibition. “But we have to take advantage of whatever the situation demands,” he suggests.

Artist: Kishan Kappari (ii)

Kishan also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Be enthusiastic and positive, and sharpen your observation of nature. Understand your mindset, beliefs, and preferences,” he says.

“Believe in your work with all your heart. Art is a divine process, almost like meditation. It is like the importance of breath for life. Make it a habit, and deepen your understanding of society,” Kishan signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to deepen 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

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