World Art Day: Delhi-based artists talk about the new strokes in city’s artscape

On World Art Day, celebrated on April 15 every year, five popular Delhi-based visual artists shared how the art scene in the Capital has changed over the years.

art and culture Updated: Apr 16, 2018 17:26 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
World Art Day,Artists,Delhi
An artwork by Sanjay Bhattacharyya that shows Delhi’s .

The artscape in Delhi has changed enormously since the time when Mandi House used to be a hub of visual artists meeting every evening. Today, the opening of exhibitions witnesses parties, which get talked about, and curators, who are often mixed with sales agents. On the occasion of World Art Day, April 15, Delhi-based painters, sculptures, and curators shared their views on the remodelled art scene in in the Capital:

It’s difficult for young artists to survive in Delhi: Sanjay Bhattacharyya

Artist Sanjay Bhattacharyya. (Shivam Saxena/HT Photo)
“I love to paint the old quarters of Delhi such as Chandni Chowk. Initially, when I came to Delhi, I painted Old Delhi a lot. In 2010, I painted Hanumanji that you see on Pusa road, because that’s the connector of Delhi.” — Sanjay Bhattacharyya

“When recession happened, the art world felt its heat, and demonetisation made it suffer all the more. Established artists have managed to survive because people buy their works seeing their signature, but I got to know that many young painters, who had come to Delhi from different parts of the country, had to go back... The price of a painting after 12% GST is much more and buyers have a habit of bargaining; it’s not possible for the young artists to survive in this scenario. Plus, there’s a lot of paperwork involved, which artists aren’t used to. If this continues, artists will go back to working as teachers in art school during the day and take up painting as part-time only.”

Collectors in the art world are now called clients: Seema Kohli

Artist Seema Kohli poses with the sculptures from her series Tree of Life, which are inspired by the old trees in Delhi. (Manoj Verma/HT Photo)

“The trees in Delhi are so fascinating and inspirational. Some of them are more than 100 years old, embedded in old buildings, and have a character of their own.” — Seema Kohli

“Today more people are aware of art. In the ’80s when we ventured out, there were hardly any galleries in Delhi. Today, even the terminologies have changed – collectors who became buyers are now referred to as clients by the galleries. But, the good part of the art scene is that there is multi-layered space for everyone, including the young artists. Some galleries are functioning like private museums, which bring assurance in art.”

Delhi’s art scene has become business-oriented: Pooja Iranna

Artist Pooja Iranna poses with her artworks inspired from the ever-growing city and its architecture.

“The growth of Delhi and its architecture has always excited me. And that’s what I aim to bring through my art.” — Pooja Iranna

“I have been part of the art scene since I was born because my parents were artists. Today, the art scene of Delhi has become very practical and business-oriented. Earlier, it was a very close group of people who were very actively doing art. Somehow, it was so exciting for them that they survived, and are known as the masters today. But, that intimacy isn’t alive anymore today. The scale of art audience and those who discuss on it has increased, but the discussions aren’t intimate.”

People confuse a curator with a sales manager: Alka Raghuvanshi

Artist and art curator Alka Raghuvanshi with her artwork that is strongly influenced by movement in dance.

“The collective heritage of Delhi inspires my art. There’s a lot of movement in my work that I find associated with the dancers whose work I closely follow.” — Alka Raghuvanshi

“Today, the bonhomie between artists has reduced because the competition has increased. Earlier, artists used to get together and attend shows of other art forms such as classical dance and music, and this used to reflect in their art, too. That’s absent today. Also, people today want a curated art show without understanding its ramifications. They confuse a curator with a design or a sales person. It’s very irritating when they ask ‘How many paintings can you help us sell?’ I’m not a sales manager!”

Art in schools isn’t limited to one period today: B Manjunath Kamath

An artwork by B Manjunath Kamath.
“The parks in Delhi such as Lodi Gardens and Nehru Park attract me. The monuments in the parts have always inspired me.” — B Manjunath Kamath

“I came to Delhi in 1994, and used to attend sangeet samarohs (music events) in Mandi House with others. That was the time when we artists used to work with joy. However, I’m happy that, today, art in Delhi isn’t limited. Earlier, there used to be just one art period for children in school, but now the awareness is more. Nowadays, people are talking about art, but they usually talk about the commercial part of art.”

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First Published: Apr 16, 2018 17:25 IST