An exhibition on at the Durbar Hall Art Centre features works in various mediums, all aimed at making art more accessible

Step into the Small is Big exhibition and you are in the overwhelming presence of several hundred paintings, photographs and sculptures within a single room — none of them larger than 9 inches by 7 inches. The show is a celebration of miniature art in its many forms in a mindboggling array of mediums, from acrylics and water colours to charcoal, wood, and even gold. Conceptualised by ArtEstate and launched in 2012, this year’s edition at Durbar Hall Art Centre presents 500 pieces by 100 artists, each surmounting the limitations of set scale.

Small is Big is driven by the desire to bring art into the homes of the average citizen. “There is a misconception that art can be afforded only by the elite. But art should be for everybody! Towards this goal, we asked artists to create small works, which are less costly,” says Sasikanth Prabhu, organiser of the exhibition. Thus, like last year, the prices range from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 30,000, but the number showcased has doubled from the 50 artists and 200 works of last year. “There are also more established names such as Manish Pushkale and Murali Cheeroth, represented alongside younger rising creators,” says curator Anoop Kamath.

The variety has also expanded this year to include photographs and sculptures, besides paintings.

Scaling down art isn’t always easy, especially for those accustomed to large canvasses, says Anoop. “It’s a tedious process to produce intricate work within a small space without compromising on quality. It takes almost the same amount of time and effort as large pieces do,” he adds. Since the works were commissioned early this year, most artists have used this time to create a series of four to five works that explore a similar theme and medium. Shinoj Choran, for instance, has a series of five paintings each with a man sticking his tongue out, or with his mouth wide open, but the top of his head and eyes covered by piled noodles, popcorn, french fries etc. Similarly, Priti Vadakkath works with the repetitive motif of hands, while Raman Adone paints of love, school children and drones upon circular wood canvasses indented by longitudinal lines. While most of the works are individually sold, Sudarshan Biswal has put together 50 tiny paintings of safety pins, lampposts, kettles and the like which can be assembled according to the buyer’s choice. At the show, they’re shaped to form a gun.

Notable at the exhibition is the sheer variety of mediums used. “Mixed media works weren’t something we targeted in particular, but it seems to be what most artists are experimenting with right now,” says Sasikanth. Srinivasa Reddy, for example, has painted over used vintage postcards, Siddhartha Kerkar has cut-up rubber chappals on his canvas, Murali’s storks flying over dreamy pink backgrounds are seen through a muslin cloth, and Katharina Poggendorf has black pepper beads in her red fish curry platter. Even in the photography section, pure pictures such as Gireesh G.V.’s black-and-whites are rare. “We’re seeing artists use digital printing with things added on, painting done over it for instance. Giridhar Khasnis’ collages are one such example,” says Anoop. The most experimentation is seen probably in the sculptures. Curated by Bhuvanesh Gowda, they feature works such as Chandrashekar Koteshwar’s terracotta-on-wood pieces, MSC Satya Sai’s gold sculpture within a jewellery box and Uday Shanbhag’s rice grain with the farmer’s name etched on it.

The artists at Small is Big are from across the nation, informs Anoop, with key areas being Delhi, Kerala, Bangalore and Mumbai. “Next year, we hope to feature international artists’ work as 30 per cent of the collection,” he says. Sasikanth adds that they hope to take the exhibition to Mumbai and Delhi this year. Small is Big is on at Durbar Hall Art Centre from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. till October 27. A caption contest is on simultaneously.