Unfinished business

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Unfinished business

Sunday, 18 August 2019 | Shalini Saksena

Unfinished business

It is an exhibition that is (in)complete and composed of ideas that work in isolation. Yet, the pieces manage to lead to a conversation between the artist and the viewer, says SHALINI SAKSENA

There is an adage— beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This saying can’t be more apt when applied to art. To each his own is what works here. What may appear to be dull and dark and not worth even looking at, can be a piece of art worth lakhs. Hence, it has been seen that the young artists are. It just experimenting with the medium but the concept of what art is all about. It is no longer restricted to canvas, wood or clay. Today, artists display a concept and sell that to the audience who understands what the creator wants to show.

The work on display at Dharti Arts Residency Open Studio by Serendipity Arts Foundation in the Capital by artists Khursheed Ahmad, Dharmendra Prasad and Farah Mulla are a case in point. In fact, 26-year-old Ahmad’s work is more about what he wants to say through his work rather than the art itself. He tells you that his work is a reflection of what is happening in the Valley.

“A piece that I have created — a shrine made from wood with windows — with a video where I am banging the wall with my hands wearing shoes is symbolic. A shrine is a place of peace and a place of worship. People go there to soak in the peaceful ambience. But then there is this violent banging, a noise, that is disturbing the tranquility in the shrine. One can draw a similar here with what is happening in Kashmir. It is such a beautiful place, yet there is violence everywhere,” Ahmad explains who belongs to a performing art community from Budgam.

He tells you that as a child he used to accompany his family to performance at a various events. “We belong to the bhand community. Our performing style involves a traditional folk theatre of play and dance. So I was inclined towards art. After finishing my schooling from a Government school, I joined an art college in Srinagar. It was here that I learnt how to fine tune my body art performance. I was introduced to painting and photography. I learnt how one could use different strokes to tell the audience what we want to convey. The idea is not to sell my work but to introduce  people to different aspects of art. That doesn’t mean that I turn down work when it comes to me. Sometimes people like the photographs that I have taken and want me to paint that on a canvas, other times, they want a big poster size of the photograph; it all depends,” Ahmad tells you.

Dharmendra Prasad, who is from Guwahati tells you that his art is what a farmer would perceive as art. “The piece that I have created is what my life has been. I was born in Bihar and lived there for 10 years and then moved to Guwahati. I did my schooling there and pursued painting from an art college. I then moved to Hyderabad but went back to Guwahati and visited many villages. It was living in an urban city and then in a rural area. This got me thinking how I could use this into my art. I wanted to use the knowledge that I had gathered and my interest in ecology led to me create a work that showcased that aspect. I am working with farmers and artisans in different seasons. When I came to Delhi, that got me thinking what I could create to show my background. I wanted to treat the space I was given as a field. The piece shows the agrarian side of India using hydraulics, irrigation technology and different kind of agricultural byproducts and mixing this with my creative side,” the 32-year-old says who agrees that a piece like this is not what people would be wiling to buy.

“The idea is not to sell art in the form that we are used to. My idea is to tell people that art is not just a western concept and for people who wear suits. Art is for everyone, even a farmer. Nobody is going to buy a running water system or crop residue. But that doesn’t mean that it has no value, it does for the people from rural India. But just like a video can be sold, my work can also find buyers— not in it’s entirety but at least in part,” Prasad says who passed out of an art college in Hyderabad and since then he has been trying to create a space for his kind of work.

“I am based out of Guwahati where there are no takers for my work. So I make do by painting portraits. The path that I have chosen is tough but I want to reposition myself. Life is not just about making money. Art is everywhere. I want to be in a place where I can bring all the knowledge that I have gained and put it on a single platform. For me art is not just a painting on canvas. Art is not restricted to any genre or medium,” Prasad explains.

Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation & Festival tells you that as an arts foundation, they are pleased to be able to provide a platform for artists  and to be part of the process of creation while they explore their individual artistic practices and grow their network within the arts community.

Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder Patron, Serendipity Arts Foundation: “The Dharti Arts Residency allows artists to create and collaborate with peers, and to connect with the artist community at large. 2019 marks our third edition, and we are proud to be able to support four artists again this year during the early stages of their creation by offering them inspiration, space and time to focus solely on enriching their practice and building their arts network.”

Farah Mulla, a sound artist and a curator, tells you that the her research is all about sound and it’s effects on humans; how acoustic soundscape helps us to navigate the social and public place and how it influences us. “Sound does not have material quality yet it speaks of materiality of objects.

 That got me interested. I work with cross model sensory perception where one sense can enhance the experience other. I wanted to have these little transfusions between different mediums and started building different insulations that are on display like there is a piece that has been created to make sound by touch,” Mulla says and adds that art is a sensory perception that engages your senses and makes you interact.

“I am interacting in a different medium. My medium is sound and I find it interesting because it is immaterial, it is reproducible, at the same time recording is not a reproduction. The morality of the medium interests me,” Mulla says who travels constantly for work.

“There was a time when there were not many takers in India. There was a time when most of my work was outside of the country. The good thing is that things are changing here. My work has taken me to Baroda or deep into the Himalayan mountains,” Mulla says.

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