In April this year, the banks of the Uksan lake at Kamshet were studded with canvases that a crowd had to navigate through, poring over art pieces in intervals. Conceptualised by graphic artist Karthikeyan Ramachandran, in memory of his late father, artist K.N. Ramachandran, the Appa Art Festival was in full swing across five days.
Ramachandran and his son had often collaborated, creating pieces that were an amalgamation of traditional and contemporary art. So it was only fitting that the Appa Art Festival opened its doors to artists of all styles. Amid ambient music and live art at the sprawling grounds in Kamshet, the experience was surreal. “It felt as if the festival was exploring the landscape through art,” says Anchana Kota, a design research consultant.
A subset of the festival is now making its way to the city in collaboration with The Mumbai Assembly for a weekend-long celebration. The event, the Appa Art Assembly, will bring together artists from a plethora of fields: design, music, theatre, visual arts and other inter-disciplinary forms. The objective of the initiative is to blend the arts with sustainability and build community partnership.
Spread over three days, the Assembly features over 70 artists exhibiting their work, performing, participating in panel discussions and hosting workshops. The idyllic feel of the fest is channelled into the event, despite the fact that it has shifted indoors. The musicians will play curated sets that add to the ambience of the space and complement the exhibition. Among the 100 or so artworks that will be on display, you can browse through a tribute to the late K.N. Ramachandran, and Triple XXX, a new art project created by musician Randolph Correia (of Shaa’ir + Func).
There will also be digital explorations by artists Tarqeeb, The Big Fat Minimalist and Echofloat, and the work of fifty artists that had participated in the Appa Art Festival Residency Project. For photography enthusiasts, there is a special workshop on creating Instagram art by Echofloat and Tarqeeb.
The second day of the event will also feature a panel discussion that aims to dissect the difference between art and design, and if the boundaries between the two can be blurred.
The speakers will include Kunal Anand and Karthik Ramachandran of design houses Kulture Shop and Xtrathin respectively. The most fascinating aspects of the Assembly are the workshops organised for the public. Sit through one by Anuraag Dhoundeyal who will explore how the isolation of ordinary sounds enables us to find rhythm in everyday movement. Then peel through the layers of images and objects in Picture that, a workshop by Sananda Mukhopadhyay to simulate creative dialogue. Or learn how to express yourself through your body in a workshop by Sujay Saple.
“The festival aims to connect and create a network of artists from different fields,” says co-founder Preeti Gaonkar. “We want to create a sustainable creative environment in the city. This festival will be held several times a year for that purpose.”
The Appa Art series is looking to take the otherwise fragmented artist community gently forward.
The author is a freelance writer
The Appa Art Assembly.The Mumbai Assembly, Bandra West. August 13 to 15. Tickets: Rs 500. Visit Insider.in.