Meanings and journeys of art – India Art Festival artists see an exciting 2023 ahead
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 670 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.
The India Art Festival recently held its Bengaluru edition at Palace Grounds (see Part I, Part II and Part III of our coverage). Founded in 2011, the India Art Festival (IAF) series comprises three art fairs in New Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
In the earlier photo essays, artists shared insights on their displayed works, pandemic resilience, and learning approaches. In this article, they describe what art and success mean to them in their creative journeys. Many exhibitions and festivals are back after a two-year break.
Artistic meaning and journeys
“Art to me is my deeper connect with the universal energy. It is an expression of my quest to explore the divine energy present in everything around us,” Pune-based charcoal artist Beena Surana explains, in a chat with YourStory.
“For 2023, I will continue the momentum and work on the series which I have already done,” says Sunitha Krishna. They include Hidden (antique doors) and Hamlet (village themes in monochrome).
“I also plan to work on nature abstract and on large canvases. I can see an exciting 2023,” she enthuses. Her current styles are realistic watercolor and acrylic.
“Art to me is an extension of myself, an unadulterated expression. It's a vehicle for me to escape into my own world, a world where I have total control. Art lets me deeply engage in the details of my work,” says Priyanka Sehgal, a graduate of Sir JJ School of Art.
She has also worked as an architect and in lighting design. “After a long parenting break, I co-founded Buzzingbubs, an online guide for parents in Bengaluru. But my love for art and intricate detail was omnipresent through my multiple roles,” Priyanka says.
IAF was her first exhibition. “I have been selling my work mainly through my network and social media. I have created close to 100 works which also include commissioned works,” she explains.
“I am one with nature and a lover of peace. So art connects me to nature by painting animals and makes me at peace with Buddha,” self-taught artist Karthik Kamath explains.
“I have been painting since 2018. IAF is my first exhibition. I have painted more than 100 artworks and posted them on social media. Some of my Instagram videos have up to five million views,” he proudly says.
“For me, art is more precious to me than my heart, I always see art in every heart,” Jayaram Krishnan enthuses. He has participated in exhibitions at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, and in international art shows.
He has been in sales and marketing for over 40 years, and has now revived his love for art. “I experimented on various surfaces for my art, from drawing paper to structural board. I have done around 500 art works, which includes portraits, landscape, abstracts, and cubism,” he describes.
“Art has always been ‘my space to be’. It has been my way to express myself, my go-to space in tough times, and mostly my Zen place! It’s definitely been a place I switch off and bring my skill mode on,” Akshata Shetty affirms.
She has exhibited in Mumbai and Bengaluru earlier. “The response from people has made me do this again so soon! I started charcoal art in 2019, spending countless hours absorbed in my work,” she adds.
“I am a firm believer in the fact that the ability as an artist to create whatever we visualise, the freedom of reaching out to people through our work without the need to explain, is phenomenal, as explanation kills art,” Sangita Baruah Sureka explains.
“We, as artists, could create wonders in the already-existing system without even debating anything. I think that is powerful,” she adds. She has won a range of awards, and has exhibited in Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Assam.
“I have conducted multiple workshops in collaborations with Skilsa and MadCapWorkshop, and handled workshops via MuteFlutter. I have accepted commissioned works from India, Canada, and the US,” Sangita says.
“For me art has become a tool, a weapon which can destroy my grief and uncertainties. Art for me is both the reflection of life and exploration of soul,” says Roja Sanchana.
She has completed over 150 paintings, sculptures and installations in bronze, transparent resin, fibre, glass, terracotta, and other mediums. “I have exhibited my work in 50+ shows and participated in 5+ festivals and workshops,” she adds.
“Art is an energy that has the power to make us think outside the box, ask questions, fascinate us, and inspire curiosity,” self-taught artist Tejaswi Poojari describes.
Art has been a passion for her since childhood. “After receiving my first award in arts at the age of five, my parents encouraged me in taking art as a hobby,” she recalls.
She worked as a clinical research associate, and eventually turned to art as a fulltime profession as her love for art continued to grow. “I started a home-based studio Kolor Kovela, the Temple of Arts, and launched my website in 2019,” Tejaswi describes.
Her distinctive art style incorporates iridescent media such as glow paints, natural crystals, and crushed glass onto semi-abstract paintings. She has started teaching workshops for young creative minds as well.
“Art is a way I express my inner self, my thoughts, moods, and emotions. It’s a journey into the real me. My art is a depiction of what is true around me and is original,” Prinkle Mehta describes.
She has been painting for over 20 years, and has traveled extensively. “I have sold my work in 15 countries, which makes me a global artist,” she adds. She has participated in overseas exhibitions in Indonesia, Australia and Tanzania as well.
“My journey has been very interesting so far. I started my career as a lecturer in an engineering college. After three years of teaching, I chose IT as a career, where I worked for almost for a decade. I have now been a full-time artist since 2017,” Rohini Choudhary explains.
She has won a number of national and international awards in categories like charcoal art. “I believe art is a journey and there is no end to it,” she adds. Her works have been sold and displayed overseas in the US, Bangladesh, Germany, Netherland, and Australia.
The festival experience
Many artists and curators appreciate platforms like the India Art Festival to showcase their works and connect with the broader community.
“IAF was a beautiful relatable experience in terms of so much exposure for my group of artists who otherwise are very locally bound,” says Shyamala Ramanand, Founder, Akanksha Artists Group.
The artists received exposure to diverse genres and formed friendships with other artists, which can help them grow nationally. “We are gearing up for our next exhibition with a lot more promise,” she adds.
As trends in Indian art, Shyamala sees the field becoming more open and explorative. “Research-based storytelling seems to be very interesting, whether it's personal or study-based subjects,” she observes. She herself is working on ink-based projects.
Sunitha Krishna appreciates the opportunity the IAF platform gives to interact with other artists, learn from them, and get ideas for the future. “It’s back to celebration time! The vibe hits you the moment you step onto the floor,” she enthuses.
“It’s a festive mood out there at IAF! You are amidst 450 artists in 100+ booths and around 4,000+ artworks,” she says.
“It also gave me a sense of ‘buyers perspective’ and what people want in their homes and workplaces,” Sunitha adds. She was happy and excited with the sales and orders she received.
The artists also share their diverse interpretations of what success means to them. It is about the inner journey as well as external connects and recognition.
“The biggest success for me is to be able to master my craft and push the boundaries of the medium that I like to work with. Commercial success and awards are just a by-product,” Priyanka Sehgal explains.
“Success for me is when people admire my artworks and connect with it. It does not really matter whether they end up buying or not,” Karthik Kamath says.
“There is no single definition of success for me. It is more of dwelling and growing in my art style, exploring ideas that are relevant and implementing them, without being devoid of my original technique,” Sangita Baruah Sureka describes.
“I would love to be known for my work to as many people as possible. For me, that's success,” she says.
“While success for me as an artist mostly inclines towards exploration of the self and being able to showcase living through art, awards and recognition will further fuel the efforts,” Roja Sanchana explains.
“Commercial success as an artist is also very important as creation of any artwork requires ample material and hours of effort,” she emphasises.
“For me, success is meeting my next goal. It means continually expanding my horizons, finding new techniques and mediums that can be used to develop my art and give it to the world. I taste success when my creations inspire my art collectors,” Tejaswi Poojari describes.
“Success to me as an artist is the appreciation and love one receives from art enthusiasts and the general audience,” Beena Surana adds.
“To me, success is when the observer has connected or understood my work and depiction. Money, sales and fame are a bonus. Recognition for my style and thought is my success,” Prinkle Mehta says.
“For me, success has never been awards, but the appreciation that comes from people,” Akshata Shetty affirms. “It was truly satisfying when people thought one of my charcoal works was actually an enlarged photograph,” she recalls.
Akshata signs off: “I couldn’t have gotten a better compliment!”
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?
(All exhibition photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the festival.)