The art scene in the city has changed and how! Senior artist CHANDRU observes the trend.
Then or now, students join the arts college only out of interest. But the difference between the time when I was a student and now is their expectation at the end of the course. Then, a majority of the students would vie for government jobs and next in demand were the ad agencies. Hardly a few students would work in the field full time.
The trend today is different. Now government jobs are completely out of the students’ minds. They are looking forward to working in the animation and film industry, besides sticking to the field exclusively. This is certainly a healthy trend.
When I started out as an artist some 40 years ago I remember there being hardly two galleries in the city. In the last 20 years though, I suppose there are around 40 galleries in the city. This in itself is proof of the viability of art in the city. There is a good market for art, otherwise why else would people invest in setting up art galleries. But whatever said and done, galleries do have their limit. There are opportunities galore beyond just showcasing in galleries which an artist must seek out. It is up to each individual to make use of these opportunities. I know of many who work with companies or individual clients as interior decorators doing wall murals, garden sculptures and paintings. These people are in good demand. While those who stick to just showcasing their work are written about more in the media, the former are more successful.
My advice to youngsters taking up art would be to take part in international and national competitions because besides giving them an exposure, it will also help them develop contacts, which is important for an artist. Contacting exhibitions and award bodies will in time help establish a name among art lovers. A lot of students these days also involve themselves in field work wherein they visit villages and town and interact with the locals. They talk about their heritage and culture through art, during which a few also land commissions for other work.
Be wise and keep an eye out for opportunities!
Chandru (C. Chandrasekaran) is also a former principal of the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai.