Art beyond the gallery

Amrita Prasad
Tuesday, 12 June 2018

From homes, cafes to hospitals, there is a need to incorporate art in our surroundings. City-based artists tell us what kind of art should be incorporated in which space.

Restaurants, office spaces, homes, or a hospital ward, we need art everywhere. Because each space needs a display of creativity. However, while incorporating art pieces, you need to know which particular art will look best at a given space and how it can be done in a way to have a maximum positive impact on the viewer’s mind.  
Role of art in spaces 

Shankar Mridha, life coach, art curator and chief believer, Jumbish Creations Pvt Ltd, maintains that all public establishments like cafes, malls, schools, government offices, parks, community halls, railway stations, hospitals, airports, bus stands, should have art displayed. “Art triggers new thoughts. Art forms like murals and sculptures help retain the good part of our history alive by depicting historical moments. Art can bring freshness to any place when appropriately chosen. Art in public creates more positivity than that displayed in galleries which is meant for a limited community,” he says.

City-based visual communication designer and artist Falguni Gokhale is of the opinion that art adds to the ambience and decor and maybe even the business outlook of a place. “These days, many cafes and workspaces like banks display the art of upcoming and young artists. I think it’s a great idea because it helps promote young and upcoming artists as well as provides new visual experiences to people, and it doesn’t even cost them anything. Good art on the wall also changes the perception of the place where it is displayed. Having new art in work and leisure spaces educates people about art, and it is also important for developing an audience. You need to expand people’s definition of what art is,” she insists.

Echoing the words of Gokhale, Mridha stresses on popularising public art. He adds, “Public art provides a bridge between the past, present and the near future; it is a mirror image of its community, an intersection between discipline and ideas. Public art is truly for everyone, even if some don’t pay any attention to it, it is embedded in the way they think, feel and act.”

We know that art is essential and needs to be a part of living spaces, but do we really know what kind of art should be displayed at what place? Rekha Gaikwad, City-based artist and animator says, “Pictures, photographs and posters have an impact on viewers’ emotions. Some people do not even think about it but subconsciously they are affected and their mood can change depending on what they view. If a person is visiting a loved one in a hospital and views a picture of flowers on the wall with pastel colours prior to their visit, they will most likely feel calm and hopeful.  On the other hand, if a person had glimpsed a picture which is dark or gloomy prior to their visit, their perception may spark feelings of grief or distress.” 

Gokhale says that people, both patients and visitors, who come to a hospital, are under stress and anxiety, hence it is important that the art displayed in hospitals is uplifting and joyous. “People always react positively to nature. I would love to create beautiful and simple nature-inspired art forms and artworks using discarded medical supplies like bottles, their caps, tablets, tablet wrapper foils, discarded stethoscopes and other such medical related items for hospitals. I would combine recycling, nature forms and art,’ adds Gokhale.

According to Mridha, every place has a target audience and a vibe which should be maintained while choosing an art form for display. He advocates a combination of art forms, genres and mediums which are aligned with the existing space composition. Says he, “Hospitals should choose different art for their entrance, reception, OPD, ICU and OT waiting areas, patient rooms, doctor cabins etc with different colour and message themes. Outside the entrance, a good choice of the sculpture is a welcome sign. The areas where patients and their relatives spend a lot of time, like the waiting areas, should have artwork with more curves (avoiding sharp edgy elements), cool colours like blue, green combined with white, whereas waiting areas outside OT, ICU should have artwork symbolising hope, love, belief, and combination of cool and warm colours. Warm colours help create a flow of energy in the viewer.

Gokhale says that there aren’t any fixed rules for choosing a specific art for a given space. “If you are creating something especially for space, a theme or a concept is important. Colours and style are mostly according to what an artist imagines,” she adds.  

Every second restaurant or cafe you visit will have its walls adorned with creative work, and the decor will include artworks ranging from rural Indian art to quirky and contemporary art pieces. Mridha says, “A cafe targeting the millennials needs to create a vibrant space by using graffiti, warm colours, and even art using technology. Art could also be used to create engagement with the audience and the new age artists who create art digitally or through virtual reality. Cafes which want to create a relaxing environment and build a community should create space for display of art. They should  let the customers contribute too.”

Cafes opting to imbibe art in their interiors help visitors destress. Gokhale says, “Cafes and restaurants are the new age galleries. Placing an interesting art object or painting in the midst not only uplifts the space but also brings art and the artist directly in the gaze of the people. This provides a great boost to the artists, especially the young ones.” 
Mridha stresses that each establishment has a theme and the art displayed there should align with that. There are establishments which can leverage art for subtle branding. For example, hospitals can get graffiti on a theme of life, hope and belief in their parking space and that can become a landmark and branding too. 

Home is where the heart is, hence what you display at home should be closer to your heart. When asked about the same, Gaikwad says, “Artwork is most necessary for home. We need positive energy at home and artworks to create this energy. Displaying art at home is also beneficial for kids as it boosts their creative thinking.”

According to Mridha, at home, the first priority should be whether it aligns with one’s heart. “In most situations, the response is, “I liked it, so I bought, no specific reason’.” For Gokhale, art is almost always a very personal choice. “People should buy what they like and connect to enjoy art,” she adds. 

As much as homes, hospitals and cafes, public spaces like airports, railway stations, bus stands should also have a combination of the technology-based art along with art depicting the culture and trends of the city. Gokhale who recently designed the Rainbow BRT logo and the graphics Rainbow buses for PMPML, says buses too need to be welcoming and inviting for passengers and the bus driver needs to be a proud driver of a good looking bus. 

“Actually the bus graphics project is more a design project than an art project. Design necessitates that the visual is replicated across thousands of buses in the same way. Since I am a communication designer by profession as well as a part-time artist, it was very easy for me to straddle both the art and the design aspect that the bus needed in order to make it into a prominent visual statement on wheels. I used very simple motifs and a very simple nature concept that connects with almost everyone in Pune — the Gulmohar tree. I designed three bus graphics and threw them open to the public to vote. The Gulmohar got the maximum votes and so there it is, rolling along,” concludes Gokhale.

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