It had all the ingredients of a “city festival” as Sanjay Tulsyan wanted it to be. The opening show of the second season of ‘Art Chennai' had transformed the usually quiet SPACES in Besant Nagar into a milieu of artists, art lovers, music enthusiasts and students all enjoying some wine, good conversation and some kuzhipanyarams.

Last year, it was exclusive to galleries and hotels and never went beyond that, observed Mr. Tulsyan, convenor of Art Chennai 2012. “This year, there has been a lot of effort put into spreading the word and taking the art to the public.”

And it certainty did seem to have reached quite a few, as several curious weekend beachgoers sauntered in to figure out what all the art was about. In the middle of the courtyard, stood artist Benitha Perciyal's live installation of an incense tree, the lighting of which by eminent persons served as the official commencement of the next eight art-filled days.

“I wanted to create something of a dead shrub and wanted the visitors to experience the aroma,” said the artist about the castor oil tree and her art show – An Ode to a Fierce Fecundity. Known for her work with organic materials, seeds, shells, and fossils, her art show was exactly showcasing that. Her piece ‘I built as a toy' used cloves, cane, nails and embroidery thread while another titled ‘Beyond the Shadow' used banana fibres, glu and handmade paper.

Chief Guest of the show, Chitty Babu, chairman and CEO of Akshaya Homes, said “the organisers of Art Chennai, who may not be artists themselves, have brought all these artists together as a family, and have given them a space to showcase their work.”

A couple of hours later, the audience, settled down for a beautiful Dhrupad recital by the Gundecha Brothers. “We will perform the Raag Kirwani,” they announced before introducing their Italian students who accompanied them with wind instruments.

“We have been trying to explore the possibility of Dhrupad music using all instruments. This is an experiment and we hope it will be liked,” was the announcement before the brothers and their accompanists left the audience spellbound.

Day one also saw artist M.Senathipathi's solo exhibition open at DakshinChitra and artist Prokosh Karmakar's at Amethyst. Ms.Benitha's work will be display till March 18 at Spaces.

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