Archive for November, 2009

Nisha, 22, has been living off her pocket money and saving all that she earns from her part-time job to give herself a chance to buy her kind of art. Not because she knows it’s intelligent investment, but because her bedroom walls were crying out for them.

This weekend, she went on a buy-buy spree at Art Mela, picking up a Paresh Maity, a Sumitro Basak, some Kalighat pata and some sketches — all for Rs 25,000.

Young Calcutta is browsing and buying (when and if it suits its budget) art for the sake of love, not money.

Money is, in fact, the barrier between the young buyer and his pursuit of art. The three-day art fair at CIMA Gallery lowered the price barrier and with it the age barrier.

Students, young professionals, homemakers and entrepreneurs flocked to the fair to pick up works ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 25,000, all in a festive atmosphere marked by phuchka, adda and caricature.

“Being a jaded galleryist, I am very happy to notice the expressions on the faces of young working women when they are buying the art on offer. They seem to be handling it like a gift, unlike most of our interactions with serious buyers, who treat the art on sale as a strictly business subject,” smiled Pratiti Sarkar of CIMA.

There was no missing that “expression” on the faces of Shantanu and Anindita Das, along with their little girl, as they toured the Sunny Park gallery on Saturday evening. Shantanu, a software professional, has “a background in art”, while homemaker Anindita has an eye for aesthetics.

“Buying art is to make our house look better, we don’t look at the works as investment,” said Shantanu.

“Calcuttans really value a piece of art, and that’s not in economic terms at all,” stressed Sarkar.

That’s unlike a Delhi or a Mumbai where a canvas is seen more as a cash cow.

The city’s sensitivity to art and artists was mirrored by Madhuja Mukherjee, a lecturer of film studies at Jadavpur University, who browses but never buys art. She made an exception at the Art Mela, picking up works by the 16-year-old Raja Mohan Das, a Howrah boy with a disability.

“The whole ambience of this reminds me of the Nandan Mela at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. I think a lot of people like me, who generally cannot be called art buyers, would love to own works if they were this affordable,” said Madhuja.

Affordable it sure was with the Rs 25,000 Masters section — Ganesh Pyne, Jogen Chowdhury, Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, Rabin Mondal, Suhas Roy, Ganesh Haloi… — all sold within minutes of the doors opening on Day One.

On Saturday, young artists like Sumitro Basak and Kingshuk Sarkar had to create works on the spot to be instantly put on display and sold. By Sunday evening, the exhibits were sold out.

Danseuse Ashavari and her film-maker husband Abhyudyay, in their 30s, left with works of Kingshuk Sarkar and Gautam Khamaru, and a broad smile. “It’s a joy buying a piece by a new artist that has caught my eye. This fair gave me the perfect chance to buy. If we only had more of these fairs, a lot more people would end up buying good art,” said Ashavari. For Abhyudyay, the art at home serves the twin purposes of “aesthetics and display”.

Young businessman Rahul Baid was an exception to the Calcutta rule of art for art’s sake. “A fair like this allows me to look at works by younger contemporary artists along with the masters. I try and keep up,” he smiled, economics more than aesthetics on his mind.


Art vs camera

   Posted by: admin    in Art News Updates

A decent camera or a cell-phone can make a photographer of you, just as pen and paper can make a “writer” of a filing clerk: so, does efficient handling of such instruments become your passport to the art world? The discussion on the concluding day of “Home and the Street” at Studio21 addressed such related questions: “When does photography become art?”

Curated by British photographer Christopher Taylor, the show featured the work of Sumit Basu, Jayanta Saha, Kushal Ray, Nilanjan Ray and Saibal Das. Das was also part of the panel that included photographers Sunil Dutta and Dev Nayak, alongside Amlan Das Gupta, who teaches English at Jadavpur University.

The tone of the evening was set by Das Gupta, who began with another question: “Can photography be an art?”
Referring to the German thinker, Walter Benjamin, he wondered that if something can be replicated time and again, could it ever be called art? Such a question not only shook established notions of originality but also posed a challenge to photographers who wanted their work to cross over from journalism and advertising into the finer realm of art galleries and museums.

Photography, Das said, becomes art when it conveys “something beyond information”. Nayak confessed his ignorance of how that transition takes place. It is best, he said, to compare photography with writing — what a society reads into a photograph makes its aesthetic value. Nayak feels that in India, the obsession with the technical know-how of photography tends to obscure merit. Good work speaks for itself, no matter how it is produced.
A member of the audience asked the panellists if they introduce themselves as “photographers” or as “artists”. Although the question was not directly answered, Sunil Dutta said that such divisions were irrelevant. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.
While there can be no quarrel with this position, the evening ended somewhat inconclusively, though not before some feisty comments from the audience. One gentleman held forth on the all-too-pertinent fear of a different kind of reproducibility: the trap of cliches set by Varanasi, Old Calcutta and family portraits.

Unfazed, Das said that it didn’t matter to him who had photographed Chitpur in whatever way before him so long as he is able to connect with his subject “emotionally”.