The second edition of Art Chennai is here. And it's gotten bigger and better

Art Chennai, the citywide art extravaganza is back, and this time, it's heading out for the wide open spaces.

Unlike its inaugural edition, which was confined to the city's art galleries and five star hotels, this year's nine-day celebration of art — painting, sculpture, installation, photography and more — will be spread out across beaches, malls, IT parks, restaurants and MRTS stations in Chennai.

“We thought, why not take art to more people this year?” says Sanjay Tulsyan, convenor of Art Chennai. “The idea is to introduce art into different atmospheres so that more people connect with it, and art doesn't seem as intimidating anymore.”

So, from March 10 to 14, there will be a vast, eco-friendly project along a one-km stretch of the Marina beach, where five artists from different parts of India will create art out of environmentally friendly materials, interactive art that changes with the wind and the tide. Artworks will also be on display at popular city locations such as Burgundy, Amethyst and Spaces. And then there will be massive art installations — celebrated pieces that come to Chennai after travelling to art fairs and festivals across the world — at Express Avenue Mall and Ascendas, in addition to those at Lalit Kala Akademi and Taj Coromandel.

“We want to make people and corporations realise the importance of public art spaces,” says Tulsyan. “Our cities and infrastructures are growing; why isn't public art?”

The second edition of the festival is also attempting to be more inclusive in other ways. For instance, a photography contest (the subject was Chennai) was conducted for the public in association with Goethe Institut and Travelling Lens, and the 100 winning entries are to be blown up and displayed at a handful of MRTS stations across the city from March 14.

Art students from Chennai colleges have been roped in as apprentices, and selected works of high school and college students will be on view at galleries through the student connect programme.

Of course, all the core events from the first edition remain. The art seminar from last year has grown into a full-fledged conference that will take place at Taj Coromandel on March 16 and 17, with high-profile national and international curators, collectors and artists participating. The ‘Boutique Art Fair', an exhibition by visiting galleries, will be on at Taj Coromandel on March 17, featuring works from seven Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Cochin galleries.

‘Art Residency', one of the highlights of the festival, will feature 25 top artists in Taj Coromandel, Vivanta by Taj — Connemara and Taj Club House, creating their works live. And, as with last year, all of the city's galleries will present a diverse range of solo and group shows exhibiting the works — over 2,000 in all — of artists from Chennai and across the country. It all ends with the grand auction of art works on March 18.

But it isn't only about fine art. This year, Art Chennai is also experimenting with a few pieces of performance art, ranging from a comedy show featuring Cyrus Broacha and Vikram Sathaye to a yoga-based art performance by C. Krishnaswami, a dance performance by the Navarasa Dance theatre and a concert by Pakistani pop duo Strings.

“Visual art is the backbone of Art Chennai, but art can be interpreted in a lot of different ways,” says Tulsyan. “We're trying out some small performance-based events this year to see how people react. Next year we hope to include literature and folk art as well — then we will be a complete art festival.”

VISITING GALLERIES

Chameleon Art Projects, Mumbai

Project 88, Mumbai

The Guild, Mumbai

Galerie 88, Kolkata

Latitude 28, New Delhi

Nature Morte, New Delhi

Open Eyed Dreams, Cochin

PERFORMANCE ART EVENTS

Cyrus Broacha and Vikram Sathaye: Music Academy, 7 p.m., March 11

‘Kundalini Rising' — Performance art by C. Krishnaswami: 136.1 Yoga Studio, 3 p.m., March 11

Navarasa Dance Theatre: Asharaa, 7.30 p.m., March 14

‘Morose' — Performance art by Monali Meher, and a music performance by Geetu Hinduja: Buddha Garden, Express Avenue Mall, 9 p.m., March 15 (by invitation)

Strings: Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, 7.30 p.m., March 17

(For tickets, visit www.bookmyshow.com)

HIGHLIGHT

‘To Let the World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art' Lalit Kala Akademi, March 15 onwards

This special show on the narrative movement in India is curated by Chaitanya Sambrani, senior lecturer, Art Theory, The Australian National University Canberra, and features works created specially for this show by 32 leading contemporary artists from across India. ‘To Let...' is part of a major project that includes a film and a book documenting the movement. The preview of the film will be screened at the Goethe Institut on March 15 at 7.30 p.m.

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