Art for everybody’s sake

SMALL WONDER The works are affordable and the art lover does not need to have a large space to display them. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat   | Photo Credit: Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

You don’t require a gigantic wall to display an exquisite piece of art. You don’t need to be a millionaire to own it either. Miniature art, a concept that attempts to make art more affordable, has been brought out in a rare show at the Durbar Hall Gallery. Art Estate, the organisation conducting it, mooted the idea to encourage people to buy art. To create awareness that precious works are not completely out of reach for the middle class.

150 works, 51 artists

“We are saying that anyone can take home a slice of fame,” says Sasikanth R. Prabhu of Art Estate. You can buy a piece for just Rs. 3,600. The most expensive work is priced at Rs. 75,000, a sculpture of a little boy in bronze by Rajesh Ram.

‘Small is Big’, the title of the exhibition, may sort of prepare you to expect more or less what it suggests. But walk up the broad wooden steps of the gallery to the first floor and you are consumed by a strange sense of curiosity. The entire gallery wall is peopled with paintings, smaller than what you are usually accustomed to, and the sculptures on display are so small, they would easily fit in your palm.

The show, featuring over 150 works of 51 well-known contemporary artists from various parts of India, destroys the notion that big is beautiful. The paintings, not more than 9 inches x 7 inches, have been done especially for the show in less than five months.

Most artists have done a series of three to five works, some even eight, which have been arranged in either neat rows or fuss-free clusters. Flexibility is the word Anoop Kamath, the curator, picks to describe the show. “It is about how we have redefined dimensions in terms of affordability, size and other logistics. It is interesting to see how each artist has utilised the given space, to create something stunning,” he says.

Anoop’s ‘Routine and Indulgence’, a cluster of six digital print works, is part of a larger series of about 270 works, which practically trace his days at work. It is done using a software he has modified, where the movement of the computer mouse would be tracked. This, on archival paper, is his “routine” and the “indulgence” comes in the form of interesting bits of stuff he collects— scraps of boarding passes, tickets and postage stamps—affixed on it.

It is a treat for those who have an eye for pop art, things out of the ordinary, the weird and the downright absurd. Nidhi Agarwal’s collages have paper cuttings of dentures and smiles like those you would find in a toothpaste commercial in them. Cigarette butts and smoke, eyes and random squiggles in black ink complete the effect. Prasanta Sahu outlines the human hand and leg, juxtaposing it on a graph sheet. One can also find the more sober portraits and illustrations at the exhibition.

An alternative

Gayatri Gamuz’s works are of the size of a picture postcard. She has painted, in oil colour, the photographs taken by her son, Arunachalam, while on a holiday in Spain.

What miniature works really do is play with the viewer’s perception, says Parvati Nayar, one of the artists in the show. “We are not catering to a dispassionate viewer. The smaller the work, the viewer gets more involved and the appreciation becomes an intimate process. When everyone is looking at big, it is fascinating that such an idea was thought up. Now, you don’t need acres and acres of white walls to own art,” she says. Her three works titled, ‘Intermezzo’, are a rare meeting of science and art. She has detailed, using graphite on paper, human hormones as seen through a microsope. “It may seem abstract, but is actually something very real, very human.”

The inauguration of the show itself was off the usual track. Artist Anil Dayanand performed dressed in a burkha wearing dark glasses. It was his interpretation of the male gaze and notions of the physical and the private spaces. Though he has learnt and practised sculpture, Anil has been into performance art, which originated in Europe in the 60s as an alternative trend against established norms. He has done about six performance art shows in Kerala.

‘Small is Big’ will be taken to satellite towns such as Kottayam, too. The works will also be displayed at the showroom of TBZ, the sponsor. The show would be held every year and it will be taken to cities such as Bhopal, Coimbatore and Pune.

Since the size prescribed is the same as that of an iPad screen, Art Estate plans to create apps, which can be downloaded, too, at a later stage.

The show concludes on September 23.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 6:46:43 AM |

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