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Eastern hues go south

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CELEBRATING CULTURES One of the works on display at the painting exhibition in Hyderabad.
CELEBRATING CULTURES One of the works on display at the painting exhibition in Hyderabad.

RANA SIDDIQUI

For the first time, Hyderabad sees a panorama of artworks from the North East.

Though the initiative is a year old, Hyderabad has seen it for the first time. Conceived by various cultural bodies of the Government with the idea of bringing the cultures of North East India to the attention of people in other states, Octave 2006 showcased a variety of artistic flavours in New Delhi. And this week, the eight-day Octave 2007 opened in the Andhra Pradesh Capital in an effort to carry forward last year's endeavour. So a shower of events related to art, dance, music, drama, choreography from the NE is in full flow at Hyderabad. While all the other programmes are being held at Shilpramam (Madhapur), Hyderabad's answer to Delhi's Dilli Haat, albeit bigger and more sombre, the painting exhibition, organised by the Lalit Kala Akademi, is being held at Chitramayee State Gallery of Fine Arts at Jubilee Hills. In the exhibition, artists from all the eight States - Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh - are represented, hence the name Octave. It also includes four National Award-winning painters. On the one side, the artists express anguish, horror, and loneliness arising out of the long unrest in the region and a sense of alienation common among the people of the Northeast. On the other, the canvases clearly indicate the artists' desire to break free from the existing norms of society and painting too. The feelings get expressed both through the abstract works and the portrayal of realism. For instance, Soumya Chakraborty depicts a fashionable "City Girl" wearing spaghetti straps and capris against the backdrop of the old city. Pramod Baruah's etching defines "Power of Love" through intricate images from man, nature and god. If Ajit Sen carves regional images of man and nature in "Alien Love", Mrinmoy Debbarma's untitled work indicates a Mizo boy's loneliness as he stands against the tall buildings of the city with a lamb as his sole companion. Veteran Assamese painter Neel Pawan Barua's mixed media work too is expressive. Curated by Shobha Brahma and Dilip Tamuly, the exhibition, though quiterepresentative of the eight states, seems to be attracting meagre attention from the local population.

Sad state

The gallery, which is barely three years old, is in a rundown condition. Seepageon the walls speaks of the constructional faults and the shortcuts taken to utilise a fund of Rs.4 crore allocated by the Chandrababu Naidu-Government for its construction. Recalls, Sudhakar Sharma, State Secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi, who initiated the building of the gallery in 2003-04 after failing to mount a national exhibition at an ICCR Gallery in 2003 due to lack of space. "We brought a huge exhibition to Hyderabad but because of the paucity of space at ICCR Gallery, we could barely mount 75 works and the rest remained unopened." The need was for a large State-owned art gallery. "So we requested the then Chief Minister, Naidu and he provided Rs.4 crore. But the condition of this gallery leaves much to be desired now."Says J. Geeta Reddy, the State Minister for Tourism, who inaugurated the exhibition, "The present condition of the gallery is because of the heavy rains which lashed the city last year. We have already allocated Rs.50 lakhs for repairs. If there is anything that can take the State to artistic heights, I am ready tocooperate."Besides the ongoing exhibition, the galleryhas hosted around 300 exhibitions so far, and if managed sincerely, can prove to be an interesting venue for artists and art lovers, particularly because of its proximity to both the High Tech City, and the main city.


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