Abhishek and Anais Basu's enthusiasm for promoting art inspires their exhibition, The Bengal Trail
For an artist to get recognition is difficult. For him or her to get a platform to showcase their works is, at times, impossible. It was to address this concern coupled with a love for the arts that the dynamic and enterprising husband-wife duo Abhishek and Anais Basu founded Calcutta Arts Club in 2007. In 2008, the duo organised travelling exhibitions of emerging contemporary works of art from Bengal in Milan, Barcelona, London, Paris and Singapore.
Calcutta Arts Club will hold its first exhibition “The Bengal Trail” in India this month, which will display the works of five contemporary artists from Bengal: Partha Sarathi Pan, Debabrata Hazra, Subir Dey, Madhuchanda Majumder and Pradip Das.
“Earlier, the market abroad for art was thriving, but now, the market is here and the money too. We had a plan of first showcasing Indian art abroad and return here to do the same thing. We later plan to diversify into other arts forms — photography, design, performing arts and audiovisuals.”
The figurative representation of Indian art forms abroad for Abhishek is unpalatable. He prefers the paintings be more abstract so that they can fit into any space.
Abhishek's dedication towards the arts is evident when he categorically says, “My primary aim is to promote the works of talented Indian artists whose works deserve recognition. Our endeavour is to introduce Indian artists abroad. We make sure that at least one of the artistes travels along with us for our travelling exhibitions.” Abhishek is a successful lawyer and was based in London for four years. His love for paintings developed as a child. His ancestors collected works of art since Independence. Unlike other boys of his age group, Abhishek preferred to spend his spare time visiting art galleries. “I take pleasure in visiting museums and art galleries and interact with the artists.” He pauses, looks towards his wife and says, “Being with Anais complements my idea of art.”
Anais traces how her love for the arts and paintings evolved. “I am a textile designer. I studied fashion and art from Paris and liked visiting galleries. I developed a keen sense of colour. Chagall and Matisse are my favourite artists.”
Courage characterises their journey to promote Indian artists in other countries as the funds for their first exhibition came from their earnings. Besides, Abhishek and Anais visited every conceivable art gallery as well as several art colleges to search for hidden talent and creations. They got by with a little help from their friends, senior art critics and art lovers. People slowly started taking an interest in Calcutta Arts Club and invested in it.
What is the one thing you look for in a painting? "What we really look at is how deeply a painting touches us." Anais, in her characteristic considered way, says: "There are different levels of appreciating art. Some have knowledge on the technicalities in art will view a painting differently from those who don't. Many connect with a painting emotionally while there are some who just want a good painting that they can hang on their walls."
“We try to pick an unrecognised artist and promote him or her. At the end of the day, it's a pleasure to promote talent,” Abhishek contends.
Abhishek and Anais efforts of revolutionising the Indian art scene hold out hope for many talented artists whose works require a platform to be showcased.
"The Bengal Trail" will be on view on September 10 and 11 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Gallery Time and Space at 55, Lavelle Road. The paintings are priced between Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 50,000. Call: 09831083206