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Updated: July 14, 2013 17:52 IST

All for art and art for all

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Bhaskar Chattopadhyay. Photo: S. Mohan Prasad
The Hindu Bhaskar Chattopadhyay. Photo: S. Mohan Prasad

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay of ArtSquare says he hopes to make art as popular as the cell phone while retaining its merit

Their motive is ‘Art for everyone’ and they have on display artworks and prints starting from as low as a few thousands running into lakhs.

They have a feature that lets you preview the artworks in a living room or a bedroom set-up and yet another where they will frame any photograph you upload and ship it to you.

Through all this, CEO and Founder of online art portal ArtSquare, Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, says their target is to open up the market, which is currently quite niche.

“There is a myth about art today, not many want to go to art exhibitions, I wonder whether they find it boring or hard to understand. It doesn’t have to be like that. A beautiful painting can be something which gives a lot of joy, like a good movie, a play, a book or a watching sunset. And it’s our job to tell people that art is not a luxury, it is affordable,” he says.

ArtSquare is quite open to receiving entries, both prints and originals, from artists and they extensively promote artwork by the disabled or by those from weaker economic backgrounds (“because their art is good, they deserve it”). Their only criteria is that the art be “good” to go on display.

“If you are an artist, you can sign up for a free account, which is like an online gallery space where you can upload your work. But any artworks you upload are curated by myself and my team,” explains Bhaskar, whose connection to art is only through self-artist and the fact that he comes from a family of artists, both visual and performing.

If Bhaskar and his team are not happy with the works, they send out a mail urging such artists to keep practising and get in touch again. “We will be happy to take a look at them, we do this keenly because we don’t want to put off the artists because they may feel that they are doing their best, given their circumstances. We want to encourage them to perfect their skills. Then again, if one painting is not approved, doesn’t mean the other will be excluded too.”

So far, ArtSquare has received orders for prints in the affordable category — that is the range of Rs. 900 and Rs. 6000, as well for originals between Rs. 20,000 up to a few lakhs.

“We ship to every nook and corner of India and we have customers in almost all tier one cities, not just metros. We also ship abroad though right now we are not marketing abroad. As of now we are focusing on bringing art to everybody in India.”

They also want to open up a section for young artists, showcasing art by children. “I don’t look at this as a revenue channel. This is art for its own sake, because art by children may not be good enough to collect or display, but it’s still beautiful. Besides, this may also help spot talent early.”

Gradually, ArtSquare hopes to open out abroad, in the Middle-East, Singapore, Thailand or Sri Lanka and gradually to continental Europe.

“India at one point of time, was so famous for its art and still is, though unfortunately it’s now more famous in the international circuits. But within the country many a lot of people do not really pay much attention to art. So we have to tell people that they don’t need to go to exhibitions with their chequebooks, and that they will be able to get something for their homes at affordable rates.”

He hopes that his story will be similar to that of the cell phone or the satellite TV.

“First we saw cell phones only in movies. Today everyone has a cell phone. Similarly we want to take art to the common man. But cell phones and satellite TVs have been devalued because if you spread something too thin, its value comes down. So we want to maintain the merit of art at the same time bring it to everyone.”

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