Culture and creativity – 31 artists showcase contributions of Kodagu at the Aadipaaya exhibition
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 600 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.
While the region of Kodagu (Coorg) in South India is known for its rich natural resources as well as achievers in sports and defence, Kodava artists are not as well known. The current exhibition at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, titled Adipaaya (‘foundation’ in the Kodava language), shines the spotlight on the regional art.
“In December of 2021, I made an open call on the Kodava WhatsApp group about my interest to curate an All Kodava Visual Arts Exhibition,” explains award-winning artist-curator Smitha Cariappa, in a chat with YourStory.
She received an overwhelming response to her open call. “I had a one-on-one telephonic conversation to find out more from each artist. I got to know the majority are self-taught and skilled painters,” she recalls.
After the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, she reconnected with artists and art lovers in Kodagu, and conducted research into its artistic heritage.
The exhibited artworks span painting, drawing, portraits, sculpture, installation, illustration, caricature, photography, textiles, and mixed media. Elements of daily life in Kodagu and festivals of Kodava culture are some of the themes of the artworks.
Art and creativity
“Art is the best language that I can apply to communicate my concerns, anxieties and enquiries. My concepts evolve around current socio-political concerns,” Smitha explains.
“Art is also an attitude towards life, and the inner self-reflection of the immediate environment and surroundings,” she adds. “With empathy to the concerns around, a certain kind of activism comes about,” she suggests.
As a curator, she sees success in completing a curatorial project and bridging the gap between artist and audience.
“Success would be to involve the audience in conversation with the artwork and the artist. If I have touched the people and they are able to get closer to better aesthetic ideas, that is success for me,” she affirms.
Messages and impact
“I am trying to take the Kodava art project to Kodagu in the form of workshops, talks and exchanges. Reverse migration during the pandemic has taken us to our roots and our native places,” Smitha explains.
She also offers words of advice for aspiring artists. “Let your imagination take over your thoughts and emotions, and be one with the surface when you are working on it. Always be original,” Smitha signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?