Hyderabad saw an eye-catching melange of art this year and the fraternity feels it’s time to take the next step.

The city added two new galleries to its art landscape this year, Ginger Lily at Radisson Blu and Ailamma at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram. The city saw some good exhibitions featuring multimedia installations, sculptures, figurative and abstract paintings by artists from the city and elsewhere. Second generation artists like Priyanka Aelay, Afza Tamkanath, D. Shanti and Jayaprakash brought in fresh perspectives. But there’s been a huge void in art workshops and forums that facilitate dialogue between artists and art lovers.

Functional art

The ‘Absolut Art Jamboree 2013’ held a few days ago aimed to fill this gap. Eighty artists came under one roof to exhibit functional, affordable art pieces. The festival had the participation of only 50 artists in 2012. It wasn’t the numbers alone that made people cheer this event. This was functional, affordable art. Imagine owning saris with Thota Vaikuntam’s paintings or a tea kettle painted with yesteryear legends like Savithri.

Curator Atiya Amjad took a leaf out of large-scale art fairs like Kolkata’s Kala Mela and felt Hyderabad’s art calendar needs an event where works of established and young artists can reach common people. She roped in well known names from the city like Laxma Goud, Thota Vaikuntam, Kavita Desuskar, Akhilesh, D.L.N. Reddy, Rajeshwara Rao, Fawad Tamkanat, Jaya Baheti, Laxman Aelay, Chippa Sudhakar and Sajid Bin Amar among others. A firm believer that the city is in pressing need for art appreciation and interactive sessions between artists, Atiya says the jamboree was what she dreamt of in 1998 as a young art writer.

“I thought of a project that would blur aesthetic distinctions rising separately of fine art, design and craft, and make art accessible to a larger spectrum of people,” she explains.

Art galleries and curators agree that conventional art pieces — paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations — find limited patronage in the city. Established artists find buyers from Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi apart from the NRI clientele that wants to purchase art with Indian ethos.

Artist Laxman Aelay who hosted a solo exhibition of his paintings, Fellow Travellers, after 14 years in the city feels Hyderabad can do more. “We need cutting-edge galleries that have space and technology to support video installations and 3D works,” he points out. That said, he feels the Deccani style popularised by artists in the city sets them apart. “Some view it as a limitation that Hyderabad artists work primarily on figuratives, have a narrative style and draw from folk lifestyles. I think that’s our strong point,” he adds.

Generation next

His daughter Priyanka Aelay who made her foray into art, agrees. She also feels the need for workshops where young artists can meet and learn from established ones. Does she feel limited to be exploring art in Hyderabad compared to her contemporaries in other metros? “Not at all. I like the traditional approach that Hyderabad has towards art. A lot can be done here. The urban landscape is witnessing rapid change and I feel we need better dialogue with people to understand this change and reflect this in our work,” she says.

Artist and curator Koeli Mukherjee looks forward to the day when established artists will come together for collaborative projects. “I attended an art camp at Nehru Centre, Mumbai, where 90 artists came together and it was a carnival atmosphere,” she mentions. Support from corporate groups and periodical presentation of their work by artists are her other suggestions. “Hyderabad went through a rough patch this year because of the political turmoil, experiencing frequent shutdowns. Despite that, we’ve had good events and reasonable sales. Some effort from the art community and things will be much better,” she sums up.

Memorable moments

1. There is more to art than just looking at a canvas with paints and strokes. Early this year, the city saw a video art installation by Lester Paul focusing on children and childhood. French artist Beatrice de Fays also presented her interactive multimedia installations in the city.

2. Asher Jay, a conservationist and animal lover, surprised art lovers with her collages and pen work. She made use of discarded clothes, paper and a few non-perishable materials. “As a staunch supporter of animal rights, wildlife conservation and sustainable development, I make sure I use all the creative faculties to spark an engaging visual discourse for the audience,” she had said.

3. The Muse art gallery hosted the Samasam Buddha art show that had something to engage all the five senses of art lovers. A live canvas was set up for everyone to add a form, for the eyes there was a decorated urli and for the sense of smell there were floral decorations.

4. Kalakriti Art Gallery held a retrospective of Ganesh Pyne’s works, paying tribute to the artist.

5. Do Din, a two-day event held recently had documentary screenings, featured photograph exhibitions that traced the history of the city and large installations.

6. Contests such as Professions of the World, held by Alliance Francaise, gave a platform to city photographers to exhibit some of their best offbeat works.