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Preparing the canvas for literate India

Oct 22, 2008

Artistes from all over India came together for an exhibition titled Anantaa – the eternal legends. The four day exhibition in New Delhi was hosted by Art Laureate to support under-privileged children through education and performing arts.

New Delhi: Frames portraying the theme of eternity recently adorned the art lounge at a top hotel in the Indian capital. The show brought together paintings, sculptures, graphic prints and works of mixed media representing several schools of thought.


What ran through in these eclectic pieces of art as common thread can best be described in the words of renowned German expressionist artist Anselm Kiefer, who had once said: “I believe art has to take responsibility but it should not give up being art.” Little did Kiefer know that even conservationist architect Smiti Makhija would share the same thought.

Speaking at the inaugural event of ‘Anantaa – The Eternal’ organised by Art Laureate in support of Delhi-based nongovernmental organisation Literacy India, Makhija said: “Exhibitions like this would be a good platform for young art enthusiasts and students to understand ethos of contemporary art and its relationship with education.”

The main objective of this exhibition was to bringing about a positive change in society. It aimed to reorient people in the way they view art, change their attitude towards social responsibility and pave way for the building blocks of our future – the children.

The event brought together works of artistes like Jogen Chowdhury, Amrut Patel, Kavita Nayyar, Seema Kohli and Vijay Victor Kumar among others.

The mission statement for Art Laureate – Art with a heart – inspires it to raise awareness in society. Its spectrum of work embraces the true boundless limits of optimism and creativity. Isha Singh founder of the initiative said: “As we try to create market for emerging artistes, we also ensure that a portion of the proceeds from the sale is used for sponsoring education of underprivileged children so that they too have access to quality education.”

Building better futures

Literacy India was founded in 1966 by Captain Indrani Singh, Asia’s first woman Jet commander. Its sole aim is to empower marginalised women and children and pave way for their self-sufficiency. This it wants to achieve not only through formal education but also by imparting skills in performing arts, computer animation, etc.

Art and education have a relationship beyond just words. This is all curator of the exhibition, Gautam Kar, knew as he was bringing together works of artistes from all across the country. These artistes believed in the common cause of contributing to build a better India. He said that curating the show was a great experience.

The art pieces were priced between the range of Rs 30,000 to Rs 600,000. Though the global financial crisis had also left its impact on the art market, this did not dampen the spirit of the team of artistes and buyers were also brimming with enthusiasm.

Isha Singh said: “The sale proceeds would go towards sponsoring education of the less privileged children.” Gautam added: “It is important for the fraternity to show solidarity for the cause and that is something we have achieved with 49 artistes coming together with us.”

“Art has been therapeutic for many, but creativity still has a long way to go to seep into deeper layers of human psyche to unearth understanding of development of minds and therefore humanity, said Sushanta Singh, an artist.

Another artist Uttam Basak on the other hand emphasised on more such initiatives where art appreciators also make contributions to take the movement forward.

While Niren Sengupta's work reflected the way to attain spiritual well being, Dhiraj Chowdhury’s piece instilled in the viewer a confidence of breaking through different cultural contexts. Samir Aich’s work beautifully represented the philosophy of the form and the formless.

Seema Kohli’s brush strokes on black and golden with a tree symbolising life showed the transcendence of soul to liberation. Manik Talukdar’s ‘Face’ in bronze seemed to be whispering silent voices of breaking gender stereotypes.

The exhibition serves as an inspiration for the developmental sector to look through colours of life and bring about a convergence amongst the two ends of the spectrum.

Art is the manifestation of society, its reality, culture and diversity. ‘Anantaa’ was a true reflection of that manifestation, where artists united harmoniously with society and pledged for a better future.

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