Artists took their art and their works onto the street at the ‘Weekend Art Mart'

Are we in Paris? It would seem so if you had happened to pass by the Vazhuthacaud-Thycaud road in the late afternoon last weekend. Right out of a scene from the Parisian quarter of Montmartre renowned for its street artists, a number of local artists had gathered on the footpath on both sides of the road (beside and opposite Thycaud House) merrily painting away on their canvases drawing onlookers by the dozen. Quite a few of their paintings (and of others too) were on display on the footpath, propped up against their easels and the pedestrian-guard railings, stacked against the wall of adjacent buildings and on makeshift trestles, making the road a veritable outdoor art gallery, where one could buy paintings or simply enjoy them.

New initiative

This event, the ‘Weekend Art Mart,' was organised by Shangri-lla Art Gallery, Vazhuthacaud, as sort of an outreach programme to create awareness about art. “Street artists are a common sight in certain quarters of Paris, and most other major cities too. In India too, in front of the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, there are regular such street artist events, where both amateurs and big names in the Indian art scene participate. Shangri-lla's ‘Weekend Art Mart' is part of our initiative to introduce local art and artists to the public, to encourage an appreciation for art among the public and in the process cultivate an art buying culture,” says J. Sasikumar, proprietor of the gallery.

Around 10 artists participated in the inaugural edition of the art mart. Most of them were up-and-coming artists such as Shyamlal, Varghese Punalur, Radhika Devaraj and John Punalal. A few well-known names such as Kattoor Narayanan Pillai and N. Divakaran also participated in the event. Says Katoor, a former principal of the College of Fine Arts: “Such an initiative is perhaps a first-of-a-kind one in Kerala. It really is a way for the public to connect with local artists and see the process of artistic creation first hand. It's good for the artists too, especially up-and-coming artists. Not only is it a window to the public, but it's also an opportunity to get directly in touch with potential buyers, eliminating both gallery fees and middle men at one stroke.”

One of those up-and-coming artists who drew the most onlookers was physically-challenged Sajayakumar who is skilled in painting with his feet!

Much to the thrill of onlookers (most of whom were seen gawking at his skills), the artist deftly drew an on-the-spot portrait of a toddler named Aisha Afreen, while Shailendra Babu, a Kollam-based artist, drew a portrait of her older sister, Fatima. That set the ball rolling and a few onlookers got their portraits done too (prices for portraits range from Rs. 200 to Rs.1,000 depending on whether it's a drawing or painting).

“People were genuinely curious of what we were doing, standing quietly observing us working, asking questions about art and so on,” says Krishnanad, an IT professional and amateur artist, who was at the event.

The ‘Weekend Art Mart' is set to be a regular feature in the city's calendar, on Saturdays and Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Contact: 9447155502.