Monday, January 01, 2007


A canvas, colors, artistic strokes and of course, a fertile imagination. The amalgam of these has captured mankind’s undivided attention over centuries. Laymen term it drawings, paintings, but artists call it life. Can one or more persons imagination create so much magic? Quite a redundant question, I would surmise.

What could possibly have been a boring evening turned out to be something much, much more. A tribute to the arts, and a treat to the senses. Now don’t get me wrong. I love art, and its always refreshing to see new ideas, whether concrete or abstract, or just plain dumb on canvas, wood, stone et al. I’d first read about Chitra Santhey in the papers a few yrs back. I could find no one interested enough to accompany me for such a venture – art exhibitions & museums are the places most people would not like to be seen dead in. It’s not stimulating enough for most. So although I really wanted to go, these years slipped by without me paying a visit

But this being my last year in Bangalore, it was probably my last chance to attend, which I did not intend to miss. On the afternoon of the 31st of December, I took off for the art fest. Every year, the entire road in that region is blocked for the purpose of this showcase. So it was a frustrating experience going through all the one ways & no U turns to finally find a place to park. Once on to the road, it was sheer pleasure. The locale is surely soothing, with the merciful shade of the trees all around, and the lush golf course close by.

Chitra Santhe attracts artists from all over India. The basic idea of the fest is to provide a decent platform for budding artists and also to make art affordable for the common populace. You won’t find famous artists out here, but young minds with a lot to offer. The main objective is to encourage art & artists, and Chitra Santhe does a good job at that. The roads were paved with stalls & paintings in all media possible, and also with some innovative techniques. There were some really good landscapes, abstracts, pencil sketches and so on. A piece of art is a thing of beauty. Everyone might not be able to appreciate it but some can sense the richness in the work. That sense of art helps you distinguish between works of “actual” art from the trash that passes off for it.

There were Mehendi stalls and scores of young artists drawing portraits of willing customers, for a fee. Honestly, most of the so-called portrait artists sucked miserably at their work and it was disappointing to see what people won’t do to earn some bucks. Since this is a common ground for all artists, what was on display ranged from the beautiful to the downright ugly. From the breathtaking to the repulsive. From the genius to rank amateur. From the good to the outright bad. From those you could look at all day to those you wouldn’t give a second look. It was all there. Some of the calendars on display caught my fancy, as well as this artist who painted beautiful landscapes with just the right colors – mellow & oh-so-soothing. Those were definitely something you would want to take home& stare at for hours. Heck, it may even act as stress relief therapy! There were also, of course, zillions of works on Ganesha, which are almost a sure shot sale material, considering people’s love for God in this county.

There were some novel ideas of making portraits with paper & magazine cuttings – no paint used, only collages. There was some clever wood work – shavings burnt & colored to the right extent & stuck innovatively to create a picture. Unfortunately, there were not many sculptures or woodworks, which was disappointing because by the end of it I was pretty much sick of watching paintings. My friend Neha tells me that realistic art sells more (of course, abstract would be a waste of money for the common man) than other forms. I would deem that unfortunate, because having done some artwork myself, I know how much time, effort and mental concentration goes into pieces of art. It is also unfortunate because the artists dabbling in alternate methods might get discouraged and it is possible that we might have the same things being exhibited year after year. 99% of the ware was paintings & that sums up the entire story. To the beholder the work might look like mere random strokes. Only the artist knows the pains involved….

In the end, I was quite tired (long walk, no lunch) and thus had no energy or intention to return to some of the stalls where I had decided to pick up something. Nevertheless, Chitra Santhe was a good experience& I commend Chitrakalaparishat for organizing this fest every year. Encouragement of art & culture is very important, and CKP is playing an important role in it. It also inspired me to revive my own artistic cravings, which have been on the backburner for almost 4 years due to the many turns my life had taken. Now all that remains is for the mind and flesh to work together...

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