Saturday, May 22, 2010

Art from the Heart !

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I love watching children drawing what they see around them. The doodles and pencil lines come from the heart and have a lot of passion in every stroke.

The opposite is often true in the Contemporary Art space nowadays. The joy of drawing and painting seem to have almost vanished. So the artist comes up with a concept and then using a computer — and perhaps Photoshop — produces an image which is then painted and churned out. What you get is art that looks nice but is without heart and soul. Some of the top Indian contemporary artists have fallen into this trap and this is a fact that often worries me.

So the moment an artist starts to sell for over Rs 3 lakh or so, you hear that he or she has hired a couple of studio assistants to help prepare the base of the canvas. In scores of cases these assistants actually paint the computer-generated image. This style of working, I believe, is one of the reasons for similar looking work being churned out all the time. Also, don’t forget that studio assistants come cheap in this country. Many of them finish from art colleges and then survive living someone else’s dream.

Let me turn to an interesting show I went to recently by an artist who paints from her heart. Ranjeeta Kant, who trained under the eminent artist Rameshwar Broota, has painted for years for the love of art and not for money. Her latest exhibition at Delhi’s Gallerie Alternatives called The Dance of the Rainbow was inspired by a trip to Bali.

The Kachak Dancers and The Abode (above) by Ranjeeta Kant

She was deeply affected by the lush green tropical island — everything from the green paddy fields and the exquisite lotus ponds and lovely flowers to the deep blue ocean and the tranquil images of Buddha everywhere. The myriad hues of nature and this entire experience have been captured in rich greens, magical blues and the striking hints of red that together result in stunning canvas works.

One is immediately drawn to the works as it’s clear that Ranjeeta has worked on the canvas and the resulting art is a work of passion. In spite of the detailed canvas work, the prices are reasonable and most of the works are under Rs 2 lakh for a 3ft by 4ft canvas. Smaller works sell for close to a lakh. It was one of those shows where you’d feel inspired to instantly reach for your chequebook.

Another show which impressed me recently was On the Darkest Night I Can See the Light at Delhi’s Gallery Seven Art run by Aparajita Jain. This was the first of six exhibitions being planned by Aparajita under the collective name First Showings. Helping her to put this clutch of exhibitions together is curator Deeksha Nath. Together, they’ll attempt to spot talent fresh out from the art colleges.

On display at the first show were three Chennai-based artists, Kumaresan Selvaraj, Aneesh Kalode Rajan and Sarvanan Parasuraman. Selvaraj works with surfaces and textures. So you had works with a number of layers on every surface — some were plain but stunning and you could feel the textures.

What we see conceals a lot behind it by Kumaresan Selvaraj

Rajan had interesting works called Perspectives. In these he imagines what he, his cousins and Michelangelo see in a group of clouds and how these images are dependent on their present preoccupations.

I was also impressed by Parasuraman who uses a variety of mediums like vinyl stickers, ball bearings, sand, silicon and fibreglass. He had done a rope sculpture using sand and silica and from a distance it looked exactly like a rope. Also, he had done a work made by ball bearings forming a pattern.

The good thing about the show was the freshness of the ideas behind all the works which was very stimulating. Also, there was the crucial fact that the costliest work was for Rs 95,000 and most works were in the Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 range.

It was art that I enjoyed!

Kapil Chopra is Senior Vice President of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts. He writes for the "The Telegraph" newspaper and specifically for the Sunday magazine "Graphiti" which has a readership of over a million readers. In Delhi, he writes a column on the art market in "The Mail Today" newspaper and also has written for the "First City" magazine.