METRO PLUS

Banaras on the wall

New beginningLalit Vishwakarma, Suneel Kumar Mauraya, Udita Dhruv, Anand Verma, Sana Sabah, Pankaj Verma and Animesh Sharma

New beginningLalit Vishwakarma, Suneel Kumar Mauraya, Udita Dhruv, Anand Verma, Sana Sabah, Pankaj Verma and Animesh Sharma  

“B anaras mein mruthyu bhi ek khushi ki tarah manaya jaata hai; Udhar log marne aate hain aur mruthyu ki intazaar hoti hai (Death is celebrated in Banaras. People come to die there and wait for death) ,” states Anand Varma. This third year BFA student from Banaras spent time with one such old man who came to Banaras to die and created a portrait.

The work is part of the 45 paintings on display at an exhibition titled ‘Boundless Banaras’ at Muse art gallery, Hotel Marriott. Every inch of wall space brings Banaras alive on canvas.

Besides Anand, the other students include Lalit Vishwakarma, Suneel Kumar Mauraya, Pankaj Verma and Animesh Sharma. Organised by Banaras-based start-up ShuruA(R)T, an online platform, the uniqueness is that the paintings are by students. Marketing strategist Sana Sabah explains the initiative. “We sell online prints of paintings made by the students of Banaras Hindu University. Students from tier 2 and tier 3 cities come from marginalised backgrounds and are not able to sell their paintings. They don’t know how to reach buyers. The art works are good but they are not able to market it because of the lack of technological skills and finance. We try to provide technological help by putting a website of their artworks,” she points out. Documentaries about how an artist works is also uploaded on the website. The team includes Gaurav Tiwari, Udita Dhruv and Neha Vashishth.

Sana points out that their start-up is still at a nascent stage. “People still do not know about ShuruA(R)T. Being in a small town, we do not have that kind of access to people; we have similar problems like these students. Since we are less in numbers, we can go ahead and talk to entrepreneurs in big cities.”

The group has exhibited in Banaras Hindu University but Sana points out it doesn’t reach the target audience. “People who visit the college are friends and relatives but not target buyers. This is just an effort to help students meet buyers.”

Artists in Banaras explore different themes but locals are not willing to buy paintings, observes Udita, an artist. “It is culturally active. Artists need to work in isolation. Banaras provides that and is good to work but not to sell. People are not appreciative of art. We have grown creating images of ganga, ghats and dead bodies. Now, the artists work on different subjects,” she says. Udita adds the main aim was to develop a market place for students and buyers. “Many students become artists every year but cannot be placed because there is no such job opportunity. If they start selling while they are students, they will get some exposure and move forward.”

Speaking of the art scene in Banaras, Sana says the students miss out on experimenting with different ideas. “The atmosphere in Banaras is vibrant but a young artist is not able to experiment and innovate. The students have an idea about research but do not know how they should go about it. One needs to have pertinent questions to seek answers. Until one meets people, talks to them and their work gets rejected, they do not grow.”

The exhibition is on view at Muse till August 14, after which it moves to Hotel Westin, featuring a new set of students.



Many students become artists every year but cannot be placed because there is no such job opportunity. If they start selling while they are students, they will get some exposure and move forward.



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