Making art accessible

Vinaya Patil
Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A group of artists will display their original artwork, curated by Jasmine Shah Varma, who aims to take art to the masses by reproducing it on articles of everyday use

In August Company, an exhibition of artworks by a group of 16 artists, is currently underway at the city’s Art2Day Gallery. The exhibition curated by Jasmine Shah Varma, celebrates these artists by displaying their original artworks. What is special about it is that it brings together art practitioners who have licensed their artworks exclusively to Varma’s art merchandise brand Indian Colours.

The exhibition features works on canvas and paper in genres representative of India’s contemporary art scene. Expressions inspired by nature are a dominant theme running through this collection.

Watercolour veteran Samir Mondal spreads the joy of floral beauty through his compositions. Concerns about the relationship between humankind and the animal kingdom are explored variedly in the works of artists Babu Xavier, Deepak Shinde, Pradeep Mishra and Shruti Nelson.

Mumbai artists Brinda Miller and Jyotee’s compositions draw our attention to the play of colours, forms and textures. Aashna Jhaveri’s subtle, abstract explorations in the paper are inspired by maps and geographical terrains. Soumen Das from Vadodara works in pastel shades to evoke topographical beauty. Haren Vakil, an architect-turned-artist creates a quirky, surrealist world through his paintings. The works of Anjana Mehra, Dhruvi Acharya, Gautam Mukherjii, Nikhileswar Baruah, Rajendra Kapse, and Shubha Gokhale express concerns about the human condition through their respective works.

“I always work with watercolours. It is very important for me because I am dedicated to this medium. It has been more than 40 years that I have worked with watercolours. It’s my speciality,” says Mondal, speaking of how Indian art had always been majorly influenced by watercolours — manuscripts, religious papers etc used to be all watercolour-based. “Now modern mediums are here — oil, acrylic and many watercolour painters have shifted to these,” he tells us.

Mondal, who works for a lot of watercolour societies and organisations around the world, says that he was very amused with China’s use of watercolours. “They conduct huge watercolour festivals and workshops but India has somewhere lost the watercolour track,” he says.

Varma is producing this art on souvenirs and gifts. “Reproduction on simple articles like stoles, bags etc makes art accessible to all. People who can’t buy expensive paintings and invest in art, can instead buy these articles,” says Mondal.

“For printing their art on bags, cushion covers, these artists get royalty,” Varma says. This, according to her, will help connect the common man with these talented artists. Four years ago, she launched Indian Colours with the aim of making art accessible to the masses. The idea was to take art out of galleries and into online and physical spaces where anyone and everyone can access and acquire art in one form or the other.

Established contemporary Indian artists were invited to license images of their art in order to print them on various objects of utility on the basis of copyright and royalty. Indian Colours adapted images of their existing paintings to bags, pouches, cushion covers, table linen, mugs, coasters, and also created a collection of wearable art.

This way art became accessible. “Through easily acquirable art merchandise the language of contemporary art has become familiar to many who may not visit formal art spaces. It has become a go-to aesthetic gift option for many,” Varma explains, adding, “This exhibition brings a two-fold joy of enjoying on the one hand original artworks where every stroke of brush, the richness of hues and the texture of the surface can be experienced; on the other hand, it brings art merchandise with digital adaptations of paintings on a variety of objects.”

“Gifting is a wonderful idea that came from how museums abroad always have souvenir shops with the art engraved on it,” Mondal adds. “I support this cause and intention and have thus licensed my floral and nature motifs for this,” he concludes.

The exhibition is on until August 19 from 11.30 am to 6.30 pm everyday (Monday off) at Art2Day, 805, The Reverie, Bhandarkar Institute Road, Above Skoda Showroom, Pune

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