The art world is witnessing a shift, from working in isolation to collaborations,” says artist and curator Avani Rao Gandra. Collaborations, she explains, results in the kind of experimental installations one associates with artists like Anish Kapoor and Subodh Gupta. “In Hyderabad, we have come to accept that an artist has a signature style from which he doesn’t deviate. However, contemporary art is changing,” she points out.
This change, sparked by the need to innovate, happens when artists exchange ideas and work together on projects, facilitated by artist in residence programmes. Delhi, Baroda, Mumbai and Bangalore are witness to many such programmes, ranging from workshops in studios, institutes and in open spaces like farm houses. Hyderabad showed signs of catching up this year.
Avani’s Iconart gallery has been offering space to artists to collaborate for the last two years. DHI Artspace brought together 14 artists from across the country for a woodcut camp, among other workshops. Daira, in its own way, has been inviting artists to come forward and experiment. Early this year, Kalakriti began its Kalakriti Residence programme. Alliance Francaise and Goethe Zentrum have contributed to this through visiting photographers, artists and curators who work with art enthusiasts in the city.
“Each month, we have different artists participating in residence programmes. Artists work either in their studios or at home amidst other constraints. When they come for a residence programme, there are no distractions. Travel and other expenses are taken care of,” says Prshant Lahoti of Kalakriti.
While the gallery has witnessed collaborative work from a younger band of artists, Prshant also plans to bring together established and emerging artists. The gallery also plans to invite product designers specialising in functional art.
Delhi-based Aditi Aggarwal, who had visited Hyderabad for the first time for a workshop at Kalakriti with city-based artist couple Swati-Vijay, says the experience taught her about Hyderabad, its culture and art. “Swati specialises in fine arts and Vijay is good at applied arts. I worked in tandem with them. I also got to do a lecture presentation in JNTU,” she says. Aditi isn’t new to residence programmes and stresses, “To me, the idea of a residency is to get out of my comfort zone and explore a different place with a new set of people, ideas and cultures.”
Emerging artists look forward to workshops where they can meet and learn from seniors. “Innovation and research happens after college. This is when the artist gains confidence to experiment,” Avani points out. Iconart saw at least 15 to 20 artists working together at a given time, including a workshop where Nakashi artists rubbed shoulders with contemporary artists.
The year 2015 also saw German curator Anja Ellenberger visiting town for a residence programme with Goethe Zentrum and Kalakriti. Anja spent two weeks understanding the cultural vibes of the city, meeting artists whose works she featured in ‘Blurred Gazes’.
Faiza Fatima Hassan was among those who attended a workshop by Anja. She recalls, “The discussions we had with Anja were amazing. While studying at the University of Hyderabad, peer learning happened through workshops. Once you step out, residence programmes help us stay abreast of what’s happening in the art world.”
Pick of the lot
The Deep Inside : Janardhan Rudhramurthy and Saju Kunhan
On the Wall : Aditi Aggarwal and Swati-Vijay
Blured gazes , curated by Anja Ellenberger.
Photography workshop by Thomas Luttge.
Woodcut camp with 14 artists.