‘Economic slowdown will check commercialisation of art’

March 31st, 2009 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

By Richa Sharma
Ramnagar (Uttarakhand), March 31 (IANS) The economic meltdown is having a beneficial effect on the Indian art world by checking commercialisation of art, feels a group of artists.

The group of 20 contemporary artists exchanged views on the effect of recession on the art industry, new developments and opportunities in the international market during a week-long Art Camp at the edge of the Jim Corbett National Park, 280 km from Delhi.

“It is a great time to involve in some thinking and interact with each other about consequences of economic slowdown on the art industry. We are having a great interactive session and exchange of new ideas to survive during this troubled phase,” leading contemporary artist Manish Pushkale told IANS at the camp that ended Tuesday.

“In the time of economic slowdown when things are in correction mode, the art industry is also going through correction. Still, this a great time for creativity and artists who are coming up with good works are doing well in the market,” he said.

The Art Camp was organised by Leisure Hotels, which runs a chain of hotels in the country, to give artists a break from city life and a chance to interact with one another.

Using the experiences from the camp, each artist will come up with one art work by May 15. They will be put up at an exhibition in Delhi.

“We have held a couple of art camps in the past and many veteran artists have actively supported our effort. The whole motive was to provide them a secluded and splendid environment to exchange ideas on art and other issues. We have invited various renowned artists and the response was overwhelming,” said Vibhas Prasad, director of Leisure Hotels.

Artists in the camp included Rameshwar Broota, Vasundhra Tiwari, Madhavi Parekh, Amitava Das, Mona Rai, Jai Zharotia, Vinod Sharma and Gopi Gajwani.

On the first day, the artists assembled on the lawns of the Corbett Hideaway, a hotel located outside the Corbett National Park, to start painting their pieces.

“Artists are required to begin their work here and they can carry it to their studios for completion. They have to give the final paintings by May 15, which will be then put up for exhibition,” said Prasad.

Well-known artist Paresh Maity said: “These camps are important as many artists come together and exchange their views and you get a broader prospective. It becomes more interesting because you work here in isolation with more constraints.”

Most of the artists feel that recession has affected the art industry but according to some it has come at a time when art was in the process of becoming a commercial commodity.

“A piece of art nowadays is seen as a source of making money where you invest today and earn tomorrow. The sad part is that art has become a commodity. I think art should be bought for living with it and not for making profits,” said Jai Zharotia, who worked for 35 years as head of the Delhi College of Art.

According to Zharotia, following recession most of the artists are getting involved in serious art work and are attracting sincere art lovers.

“It is true we are not selling as we were selling before. However, the best part is that we are able to attract sincere art lovers to our exhibitions. People coming to any art exhibition these days come with some homework and not with a blank mind. They are investing themselves, their time, besides the money,” said Zharotia.

It was not all work. The artists went walking, interacted with local artisans, and went on an elephant safari inside the Corbett National Park.

“It was a refreshing week for all of us and we discussed several issues ranging from art to the market trends in the industry and from upcoming art exhibitions to new works undertaken by us,” said contemporary artist Jagdish Chander.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at richa.s@ians.in)

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