Works of over 70 artists are set to be a part of an exhibition to raise funds for Citizens for Justice and Peace’s legal aid to Gujarat riot victims.

As and when people needed a wise say from the proverbial wielders of paint and brush, history is witness, artists have rarely proved a damper. This time too, to call a wrong wrong, and help bring justice to those wronged, over 70 artists have brought together their collective might to a single platform — Art for Humanity. Artists like Ram Kumar, Manu Parekh, Jogen Chowdhury, Anjali Ela Menon, Gulam Mohammad Sheikh, Atul Dodiya, Arpana Caur and Jitish Kallat among other big names from the world of art and photography have given their works to be a part of an exhibition in Mumbai to raise funds for Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). The money raised from the pieces auctioned at the exhibition — held between April 6 and 9 at Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharasj Vastu Sanghralaya — will be used by CJP to help pay for the legal aid it has been providing to the victims of Gujarat riot.

Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, CJP, calls the art world generous and closely linked, the pluses that have given wings to the idea. “Building up the support base was possible because of friends within the fraternity who spread the word by word of mouth. I would like to mention Nilima and Gulam Mohammed Shaikh, Arpana Caur, Ram Rahman and Shakuntala Kulkarni who have gone out of their way to ensure that a wide network of artists participates in the initiative,” she says.

In 2008, a sister organisation, Sabrang, held a similar auction for CJP. “This time we have chosen an exhibition format,” she says. Kria, a Mumnbai-based think tank for the arts, has come in to assist CJP in accessing works of artists, collectors’ works and ensure that the exhibition has a professional face.

CJP initially, relates Teesta, made do with individual and corporate donations. “We have had to consistently build a support base for our work since the whole business of providing systematic legal aid to victims, hiring legal services, even at the bare minimum on retainerships, is a financial responsibility. In the first years we had individual donations, corporate donations but soon these dried out. People are worried about persons in political power who are the perpetrators of mass crimes and the opposition is vindictive with State power and resources at their disposal.” Today, CJP provides through a team of 18-24 lawyers hands-on legal support and advice to the survivors of the 2002 riot. Teesta points out that “victims have transformed themselves into survivors through our quest for justice” and hence, sustaining the movement is vital.

“The work requires relentless monitoring, legal research, which we do ourselves to cut costs, and our wonderfully committed legal team from the Supreme Court right up to the trial courts ensures systematic interventions…we have managed to focus on the anomalies and failings in our criminal justice system,” says Teesta.

With such a good response from the art fraternity, CJP is considering making Art for Humanity a sustainable and lasting platform. “We hope over the next two-three times to include the works of artists from South Asian countries.”

Though the exhibition is in Mumbai, CJP has created a website to enable anyone willing to buy the art works view the collection.

(For details on the art works, log on to http://cjponline.org/afh)

Works of artists for the fundraising

Ram Kumar, Arpana Caur, Kishor Shinde, Mithu Sen, Nilima Sheikh, Gauri Gill, Raghu Rai, Manish Pushkale, Ram Rahman, Pablo Bartholemew, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram, Manu Parekh, Madhavi Parekh, Anjolie Ela Menon, Binoy Varghese, Veer Munshi, Pratul Dash, N Pushpamala, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Jogen Chowdhury, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Hema Upadhyay, Smriti Dixit, Akbar Padamsee, Prabhakar Kolte, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Riyas Komu, Bose Krishnamachari, Prajakta Palav Aher, Tanujaa Rane, Sheetal Gattani, Jitish Kallat, Sujith S. N., Kiyomi Talaulicar, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Imtiaz Dharker, Sunil Padwal, Anjana Mehra, Viveek Sharma, Nitin Dadrawala, Yashwant Deshmukh, Sudhir Patwardhan, Shilpa Gupta, Tushar Joag, Sharmila Samant (set of 5), Shahabuddin Ahmed, Minal Damani, Anandajit Ray, Alok Bal, Lavanya Mani, Suneel Mamadapur, Arunanshu Chowdhury, Indrapramit Roy, Akkitham Vasudevan, Nehal Rachh, Lokesh Khodke, Shibu Natesan, Rajan Krishnan, S G Vasudev, Benitha Perciyal, C Douglas, Paramjit Singh, Arpita Singh, B.V Suresh, Manjit Bawa, B Prabha, Badri Narayan, Heeral Trivedi, A Ramachandran, John Tun Sein.