FRIDAY REVIEW

Art gallery in Bhubaneswar

THINK ORISSA and think `the city of temples' and what goes with it invariably -- the art and craft expertise of the local people here. Yet, surprisingly, though, the State and specially its Capital Bhubaneswar, has no dearth of outlets showcasing the handicraft articles of sandstone, marble, textile, bamboo and others, but there is no trace of any art gallery!

That is what prompted Karen Kent, a US citizen, to come out with one in Bhubaneswar a year ago. The Orissa Modern Art Gallery at Surya Nagar - a stone's throw from the all-new The Trident hotel -- founded by her with an ace artist from the city, Tarakanta Parida, now boasts of the best art works from contemporary young artists as well as seniors whose works were not to be seen here in the past. What makes this gallery even more important is that it showcases the oils, acrylic, lithographs, etchings, drawings and sculptors from the most underprivileged but skilled artists of the city. Most of them portray the daily life engagements, their dreams and aspirations in hues spectacular -- difficult to imagine of a small town. All these artworks are priced between Rs. 200 and 15,000.

"When I saw their works in a show two years ago at Lalit Kala Akademi in Delhi, I could not believe that such beauty can exist on canvas from an unknown part of the country. So I decided to expose their talent to the art lovers. In my pursuit, Tarakanta proved to be an inspiration," recalls Karen.

And, hence, last September saw the first-ever known art gallery in Orissa. What makes it more significant is the organisation of several exhibitions in a short span of time that has drawn high- profile people and young art students from many art colleges in the city and nearby areas, flock the gallery. The duo who did a token exhibition of the artists here in September this year, took the same to Pondicherry and returned successfully. "We took 30 paintings and sold 10," beams Karen. She also encourages more exposure by putting some works in visiting exhibitions of other artists. Recently, she also brought art works of important national artists like Jatin Das and Suhas Roy for local art-lovers.

Come December and the gallery is "going to have international photograph exhibition of four photographers: two from U.S, U.K, one artists and one cartoonist from Orissa itself," for the first time, informs Karen.

Karen, who has an environment and rural development background for which she has been actively moving in different countries for 15 years with her husband, inherits the love of art from her artist mother though for her it is "just a hobby which I am pursuing out of my personal expenses." Her enterprise also saw the only five-star hotel in the Bhubaneswar, The Trident have an art gallery of these artists on its premises, promoting them generously.

RANA A. SIDDIQUI

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