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Not Just Art: Art gallery of artists with disability

Nov 06, 2019

The Art Gallery had visual art done by artists with disability who came from all across India to showcase their amazing talent with color and form. G Kishan Reddy

New Delhi: India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy inaugurated the Not Just Art, Art Gallery at UNESCO Cluster House, Chankyapuri, Delhi. The Art Gallery had visual art done by artists with disability who came from all across India to showcase their amazing talent with color and form. The Art Gallery will be open for public viewing on November 5, 6 & 7 from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

To honor the talent of artists with disability, the 1st edition of ‘Discovering Ability’ Art Awards was organized by Not Just Art, in association with UNESCO and HSBC. The Award aims to celebrate the artistic abilities of persons with disability, who have hitherto remained a largely unrecognized talent pool. Their art has been created by overcoming various challenges. It also helps them to express in colour what they cannot express in words and release their emotions. Hence Not Just Art.

Present for the event were Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka; Meera Shenoy, Founder and CEO of Youth4Jobs and Not Just Art; Paul Raddon, Head of Operations, HSBC Global Service Centres; and Adwaita Gadanayak, Director-General, National Gallery of Modern Art.

The artists who were awarded with a cash prize of Rs. 50,000, a trophy and a certificate are:

● Amrit Khurana from Noida, Uttar Pradesh - an autistic artist who creates beautiful colorful pieces in India. Amrit began painting when she was six and uses no models for her drawings, but draws from images seen only once, on television or in a book.

About her artwork: Her cubist and abstractionist inspired work is a metaphor of and analogy to life and the bond between the parent and child.

● Mallika Khaneja from Panchkula, Haryana affected by asphyxia — as the umbilical cord wound itself around her neck resulting in damage — she suffered cerebral palsy. Today she is known for her art and is all geared to complete here masters in fine arts from the Chandigarh College of Art this summer.

About her artwork: At UNESCO, she has a two panel artwork that portrays animal and residential life.

● Rohit Anand from Bengaluru, Karnataka, is autistic and participated in Kochi Biennale in February. He is one of the students who made his way to Paris where he displayed his artwork at the Outsider Art Fair (OAF).

About his artwork: In his submitted piece, Anand portrays himself by broken glass stating “When it all gets too much, I rebel. I yell. I shatter”. Orchestrated with several red and orange hues, his painting lets us into his world and gives us a sense of shattering anger and frustration.

● Y. Raghavendran from Chennai, Tamil Nadu has speech and hearing impairment, which causes him to hear the world differently, so he communicates loudly through bold and strong colors. “saving the trees” and nature surrounding them.

About his artwork: Raghavendran’s watercolor painting is a testament of his concern for nature, which critiques and challenges those who take from nature and evokes urgency and warning for those who do not protect it.

● Mohammed Yasar from Palakkad, Kerala is a watercolor painter who expresses various human feelings to the whole world while keeping his style simple. His work has been recognized in prestigious events such as the Paralympic Art World cup in 2019 and the National Abilympics Association in India. Art was a medium through which he escaped loneliness and a companion who has always helped him communicate to the world.

About his artwork His painting title is feeling through moves. The artwork submitted is of Lord Shiva expressing anger and performing the “Thandava” Nritham dance while his wife, Uma, is performing a Lasya; Bhava Nadanam dance as an expression of love.

● Niral Hareshbhai Swati from Vadodara, Gujarat suffers from intellectual disability, which does not define him. Swati has participated in numerous national and international art competitions and exhibitions where has won accolades of many renowned artists and art lovers.

About his artwork: This eclectic and psychedelic artwork gives the viewer striking colors to draw attention to an important matter. His piece serves as an announcement to the public to protect birds by refraining from flying and fighting with kites.

● Durgesh Kumar Rathore from Vadodara, Gujarat - From as early as a one-year old, Durgesh has used painting and drawing as a source of “liberty” to express himself freely. An artist who struggles with dyslexia and bibliophobia, reading and written text has always been a challenge for him but he never lets it stop him from achieving his dreams.

About his artwork: In this piece he hopes to inspire others that one can become successful in spite of the limitations or shortcomings they may have.

Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO, New Delhi said, Enabling the participation of persons with disabilities in artistic and cultural life is a key priority for UNESCO. Our collaboration with Youth4Jobs and HSBC to launch the ‘Discovering Ability’ Art Awards builds on our portfolio of disability-focused interventions in India. This includes partnerships with leading cultural institutions to build accessible art galleries; using film to advocate for disability rights; promoting inclusive education for children with disabilities; and helping make libraries and archives disability-friendly. ‘Discovering Ability’ is an important initiative, and signals our commitment to empower persons with disabilities to become both mainstream consumers and producers of art forms.

The Awards team received over 130 submissions from more than 15 states across India in a single month. A panel of three eminent judges from the Department of Fine Arts, Sarojini Naidu College of Arts and Communication, Hyderabad have reviewed the submissions and selected the seven winners.

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