Last month I was in Ahmedabad and could not help but compare the art scene between the two cities. Quantitatively speaking, the number of galleries and art shows that happen in Bangalore is much higher than what one sees in Ahmedabad.
Visitors from Mumbai and Delhi find Bangalore lagging behind on the art front, and I have to say the same for Ahmedabad. The level of awareness and interest in art appears to be low and one of the reasons that I could correlate it with is that there is hardly any coverage about art related events in the media. And, this is despite the fact that a number of well known artists live there.
Media plays an important role in reporting news and creating awareness about local and global issues. But, it has an equally important role to play in providing the necessary leverage in promoting fine arts and culture. We are fortunate in Bangalore to have a supportive media who has been giving widespread coverage to art exhibitions and related topics. It is another matter that often the kind of art that gets promoted is questionable. While, in Ahmedabad, gallerists and other people that I talked to, cribbed about the dearth of art critics and journalists.
I must talk about one of the exhibitions that I visited at Marvel art gallery, a leading art space in Ahmedabad that centred around a contemporary theme along with an unusual execution. ‘Nagarnama II’ - Nationalism to Internationalism featured some humungous sized canvasses by a young artist Harshil Patel. More than the paintings themselves the two huge works running almost the entire length of the gallery, and the entire floor covered with charcoal bricks gave it an interesting dimension. Exploring the theme of rapid urbanization and the corresponding change in cultural identities, the paintings portrayed the altered skylines. This combined with an installation and a collage of photographs; the gallery space was radically altered and created a special ambience. The feeling one had of standing on the pitch black road and viewing colourful artworks around me was remarkable.
In closing I would like to mention that on November 8, the art auction house Emami Chisel will hold its next auction of Indian art. According to their press release, the focus will now be on contemporary works and a lot of young artist's works will be put up for auction this time. Apart from painting, drawing and printmaking there will also be sculpture, photography and a two Channel video projection. The online auction starts on November 3rd and will merge and continue with the live auction on 8th November.
(Published in Bangalore Mirror)