Vacationing clientele and sweltering heat may have brought in a lull in Hyderabad's art calendar, but galleries and artists are busy chalking out new shows

An occasional camp here and a small group show there apart, it’s a relatively unexciting phase in Hyderabad’s art calendar. Leading galleries tend to slow down, take stock and use the time to plan ahead.

“Art buyers in Hyderabad constitute a small segment and during summer, once the schools and colleges are shut, families are away travelling. Inevitably, the response to the shows is low. So we space out events in summer. We are utilising this time to work out the details of our next few shows that will begin towards the end of the season,” says Prshant Lahoti, owner of Kalakriti. The group had opened its second gallery at Trident recently and completed a month-long show of selected works of veteran artist Ram Kumar.

Prshant points out that the art calendar hits a high note from October to December, with art auctions and exhibitions. Atiya Amjad of Daira Centre for Arts and Culture agrees. “Winter is one of the busiest times for art since people look forward to buying during the festive season. There’s a lull during peak summer and things look up in June,” she says. This month, she says, is spent in stock inventory or holding workshops for children. “We don't encourage artists to come to us for new shows at this time,” says Atiya.

The summer slowdown is an indicator of the limited clientele for art in Hyderabad. Younger artists dependant on galleries to exhibit their work bear the brunt while the more established names have learnt to work around the seasonal vagaries. Artist and curator Fawad Tamkanat rues, “Hyderabad witnessed a good phase a few years ago. But now, buying is low. People here prefer to lock their money in gold than art.” However, Fawad is one of the recognised names in the city and has buyers visiting his studio from other cities during summer vacations. “Seasons are immaterial for serious art lovers,” he emphasises. Banking on this clutch of art lovers, he is curating a ‘Collector’s Choice’ show at his gallery next week showcasing works of artists such as Tapan Das, C. Prakash, Laxma Goud, Vaikuntam, Priyanka Aeley, Afza Tamkanat, Asif Patnaik and Bikash Bhattacharya among others.

Artist and curator Koeli Mukherjee feels buying art is need-based. “Galleries prefer to conduct art workshops in the beginning and end of summer when most people are not travelling,” she says. Koeli prefers summers for long hours of painting. With the light entering her studio at dawn, she starts her day early and paints till noon. “Some days I work in an air-conditioned environment and when I want the paint to dry quickly, I work outdoors,” she says. Later this month, Koeli will be accompanying Parameshwar Raju for an exhibition of his new calligraphic works in Brussels.

On a different note, she points out that the art-loving clientele also tends to buy works of western masters while travelling during this season.

A creative pursuit like art transcends seasons, believes Sachin Jaltare. One of the best known artists in the city and enjoying patronage from a clientele that understands art, he says, “Summer has its own flavour, though at times the heat can be a deterrent to paint. If I don’t feel like painting, I take it easy. My painting depends on my frame of mind.”

Though most galleries are tight-lipped, plans are in place for the end of summer. An event to look forward to is a video art film festival at Fawad Tamkanat’s gallery, showcasing videos of two to three minute duration each, focusing on social and political issues. Fawad refutes any parallels made to short film festivals. “Videos made by artists are different from those made by filmmakers. We’re planning to show 50 video art films in a day. Most artists are first-time filmmakers and are editing their films with professional help,” he says. Some of these films will highlight different facets of Hyderabad.