The ongoing National Exhibition of Art at Lalit Kala Akademi can be made more inviting and engaging with some minor changes

The 55th National Exhibition of Art is underway at Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), the apex body responsible for the promotion of visual arts in the country. In addition to 168 artists, there are 9 invited artists like Rajender Tiku, Dhiraj Choudhary, etc. and four LKA produced films on S.H. Raza, M.F. Husain, Ram Kumar and Akbar Padamsee — all directed by Laurent Bregeat, a famous name in the world of art films. Executed in a wide range of mediums by artists from across the country, some of them are really fine specimens of creativity and imagination. An annual effort that was kicked off by the Akademi in 1955, it is one of its most seminal activities but over the years it has increasingly lost its lustre.

It’s heartening to note that the screening committee year after year makes an effort to go beyond the standard names and dig out interesting works by promising names. A number of etchings, woodcuts in particular, are included in the show, besides paintings, sculptures, ink on paper, tea wash and whatnot. But one wishes a member of the curatorial staff from the LKA was stationed inside the gallery to help the common visitor comprehend the nuances of art on display. A problem with our cultural organisations is their functioning in isolation, failing to create a dialogue with the masses. And as a result the distance between the two has only increased.

But despite everything, as claimed by an official, exhibitions at LKA receive a footfall of around 300-400 per day. Seems slightly exaggerated, but even if it is true, a large chunk of it is courtesy LKA’s strategic location. So if things were to change, change for the better, the venue would be swarming with public.

A small leaflet or a catalogue of the show, welcoming staff and proper advertising of LKA’s mega events like this would really help. In this particular case, one also feels if it could have been held a little earlier to get more attention, since elections have taken precedence over everything else right now.

(The 55th National Exhibition of Art is on at LKA, Rabindra Bhawan, till April 10)