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Strokes of concern

It was the turn of artists to contribute their mite towards the tsunami-affected through an art camp held in Pondicherry

Artists working at the Banyan Beach Resort, Pondicherry. — Pic. by T. Singaravelou

WHEN EVERYBODY is doing their bit for those affected by the tsunami, can artists be far behind? With actors turning footballers and tabla maestros taking to singing, 25 artists from all over the country are pitching in by doing what they are best at, painting. These artists will be working together with three French women for a week for Art-Aid.

The art camp organised by Art World of Chennai and Club Sante Events, Pondicherry, was one of the events planned to celebrate 50 years of the Indo-French cultural relations. The festivities were cancelled, but at artist Surya Prakash's suggestion, it was decided that the camp should be held to help rehabilitate those affected by the tsunami.

"The fact that it was held in Pondicherry, a few feet away from the sea marks the coming back to normality of life," said Michel Seguy, Consul General of France.

According to Gopinath from Cholamandal, "Artists have always come forward to support causes such as these." Gap, who normally avoids art camps, made an exception for this special event.

Suryaprakash, on his part, has also brought signed prints of his work for Art-Aid. The participants will donate a canvas each, for an exhibition or auction to raise funds. Some of the well-known names like Dhiraj Chowdhury and Amitabh Sengupta already sell for more than a lakh of rupees. With the up and coming painters fast catching up in the art circuit, the organisers are hoping that the money raised will be a substantial amount. But the artists themselves are not talking shop only. There is football on the beach and Baul singing in the evenings but that is reserved for the breaks.

Varied styles

For the better part of the day, they are busy painting in styles and compositions as varied as their backgrounds; be it Sajal Sarkar's strong anatomical figures in charcoal, Diptish Dostidar's unique `below the floor' perspectives of the human body or Pramathes Chandra's translucent figures. Then there are Rathin Kanji's minimalist acrylics of objects of everyday life boxed by a few clean lines representing the globalised world and Sudip Roy's old-city landscapes in watercolour.

"It's wonderful. We share, we discuss, and sometimes we quarrel too, but only on ideas," says Alok Bhattacharya. Amongst the younger generation, many might have honed their skills at art schools copying the already established artists, but this is where they get to showcase their skills to their peers and seniors.

"This is an endless learning process," says Surya Prakash. It was at a camp three years ago that he found a `way out of what was becoming repetitive' by taking a bold step and shifting to acrylic from oil like many of his friends. According to him, his `pools of life' have a richer and more complex texture from the use of acrylics.

The art camp, according to Bishwajit, director, Art World, is an `open university', not only for participants, but also for local artists, students and anybody interested in contemporary Indian art.


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