Goa's Fontainhas fest boosts local art | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Goa's Fontainhas fest boosts local art

The arts festival got underway on the weekend, to showcase a wide range of skills

art and culture Updated:

Goa's unusual festival of the arts, Fontainhas, got underway on the weekend, helping to showcase a wide range of skills from the state and beyond.

Bondo, Goa's most famous drummer and a man with golden fingers who can squeeze amazing sounds out of even a wooden box, grins out of the portrait photography of Alex Fernandes.

Gulf-returned Fernandes has about the most amazing collection of Goan musicians' portraits, and is one of the artists showcasing his work at the five-day festival that opened late Friday.

"It takes four-five days to create one of these," says Narendra Hanswal of Gogol, Margao in south Goa. Hanswal intricately engraves portraits on black granite stone, and prices each from Rs.500 to Rs.5,000, depending on the size.

"I can even do photographs. It lasts a lifetime," he says. Hanswal has his own studio, and says that singing and playing the banjo and mouth organ are his other passions.

Engineer-turned-software developer Vikrant Kumar of Pune is also exhibiting. His passion is travel and landscape photography, with an emphasis on the Himalayas.

Vitesh Naik, like many other Goans, has returned from a two-year stint in Kuwait as an interior designer. His work too is up on display at Fontainhas.

This festival is reminiscent of the Mumbai-based Kala Ghoda festival. In some ways, it is different because of Goa's Latin flavour that comes from this region's long links with South Europe via its Portuguese rulers of 451 years.

As the bitterness of the past recedes into history, it has been a Portuguese cultural foundation - Fundacao Oriente - that has pumped in money to restore the area of Fontainhas, and in a way, remind Lisbon of its heyday in Goa and in Asia.

Goa's booming tourism trade has given some fillip to its otherwise overlooked art scene. There are today a number of tiny art galleries. People with diverse backgrounds have entered the field.

Says Caranzalem-based marine chemist Sushant Naik: "My works are figurative, though I also paint village life, landscapes and still life. My passion is sketching with charcoal on paper. Fortunately I have been able to sell some of my paintings without any exposure to commercial exhibitions."

Raviraj Naik collects abstracts of Lord Ganesha, and has his online presence at jaishreeganesh.org. Gauri Divan, a paediatrician, also works in stoneware, producing tableware for "daily use". She works from her studio in the village of Penha de Franca where she creates "each pot from beginning to end".

Davina Stephens is one of Goa's prominent foreign residents and artists taking part in the exhibition.

On Friday evening, the event was launched with showman and pop star Remo Fernandes taking the locality by storm, releasing his shot-in-Fontainhas music video "Muchacha Latina" ("Latin Woman") at a well-attended event.