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Making Chandigarh a Cultural Hub

  • Diwan Manna
  • Journal
  • July 25, 2016
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We are proud members of our fraternity of “artists”. Aren’t we? However, we need to pause here for a moment to discuss a few delicate questions. Have we really lived up to the exalted status rolex replica watches the word “artist” confers on us? In other words, are we fulfilling the role and responsibility inherent in the spirit behind this word?

We need to find urgent answers if we sincerely wish to rejuvenate the art scene. Is the lackadaisical interest and half-hearted participation in the art exhibitions an indicator of the lack of significant art activity? Is the infrastructure needed to support and sustain this activity not adequate? Is the seriousness of commitment on the part of artist community lacking?

Or, do we hold the art organizations responsible for not managing things reasonably well? How do we seek better investment and participation of schools, colleges, families and society at large in creating awareness about the importance of art?

The health of any progressive, thriving and replica watches uk replica watches intellectually stimulating society, community and civilization depends on the honest answers to these questions.

Do we need to revive the time-tested and respected Guru Shishya Prampra in the field of visual and plastic arts as well? Of course, finding the Gurus and the seekers of their knowledge is another challenge! It is sad when one sees half-hearted attempts made in preparing “creations of art”, and the hurry to display, just to seek early recognition. There does not seem to be enough serious effort to learn the finer nuances of art.

How many artists in our region paint, sculpt, draw, or pursue creative activity on a regular basis as a classical musician or a dancer does? Do we really need to be reminded that it’s the riyaz or practice, along with the gift of God in the shape of talent or vision that shapes the finer nuances of any art discipline?

 It goes without saying that we need to dedicate ourselves fully to our art with total commitment and concentration to achieve higher levels of perfection.

Legendary playwright Mohan Rakesh once said that “Pratibha shakshiyat ka pachchees pratishat hissa hai, shesh poorti prateeshtha se hoti hai”- (Talent is only twenty five percent part of the personality; the rest is developed through one’s effort and achievement).

It is a well-known fact that M. F. Hussain paints regularly and consistently; that how much time Tyeb Mehta used to spend with his ideas, paints and brush; and how frequently the progressive artists group used to meet and discuss matters related to art, literature, theatre, music, society, politics and other related issues.

An artist pursuing any discipline has to become one with his/her tools - canvas, paint, brush, pen, ink, camera, etc, in order to achieve that ultimate “truth” that reflects in any major and significant work of art. Once we invest in, relate to and feel about our tools on a regular and intimate manner, they then become an extension of our personality - an inseparable and integral part of our being.

If we fail to do so then, as a consequence, art loses its sheen, grip and impact on the mind of the viewer. So we need to focus on the commitment and intensity in this relationship of the artist with her/his tools.

With our society getting more and more inquisitive and showing a keen interest in artists and their creations, it calls for an even deeper scrutiny as to why Chandigarh is not becoming the kind of art center it so richly deserves to be. It also requires an urgent rethink on the part of artists’ community, art critics, art lovers and art managers.

Chandigarh and its premier art institute Government College of Art have produced some significant names in the field of art. But almost all of them have had to settle either in a far away metropolitan city or abroad to make a mark or get recognition. Despite the fact that our beautiful city, and one of the best, known for its quality of life and symbolizing freedom of human expression, provides an ideal setting for an artist.

The few who came in the Seventies and the Eighties, such as Balwant Gargi, Mohan Maharishi, Amal Allana and Kumara Verma (noted theatre personalities), left after having finished their tenure in their respective assignments. Writers Hazari Prasad Dwivedi and Krishan Baldev Vaid, too, did not find enough motivation to stay on and left for good.

Among the exceptions are Prof. B. N. Goswamy, Nek Chand, Kumar Vikal, Prof.  D. C. Bhattacharya, Neelam Man Singh Chowdhury (who came back at the peak of her career and made Chandigarh her home and work place) and Dolly Ahluwalia Tewari. The departments of Indian theatre and Fine Arts in the Panjab University attracted many of the above mentioned personalities to the City.

How do we provide a fillip to quality art activity in the City? The art galleries, art institutes, museums and other art organizations need to make serious attempts to hold research-based curated shows. The serious art promoters and buyers go to Delhi and beyond to view and buy art, sometimes of the City-based artists from galleries in Delhi and Mumbai. We still require good institutes in the region, or perhaps in the entire country, that would offer courses for Curators, Art Managers and in Art Appreciation.

We still do not have good, informal forums for a healthy discussion or exchange of ideas. The Indian Coffee House - the only place where writers, poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, theatre persons, philosophers and journalists used to meet and discuss matters concerning their art and the society, does not attract us any more. Why?

 

In smaller cities like Chandigarh we seek artistic inspiration from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Paris, New York and Berlin. Similarly, Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali also serve the purpose of being a guiding spirit to the states of Punjab, parts of Haryana, and to some extent Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

 

Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi organises, in its own humble ways, events that could be seen to be contributing towards filling this gap to some extent. I sincerely feel that much more needs to be done if we genuinely wish to see a major and significant change in the art scene of the City and the adjoining areas. For this we need enthusiastic and full support of the artists and the public.

We need to understand that despite art objects attracting far more decent prices, and in some cases exceptionally high price tags, art should not and cannot be looked at as a We are proud members of our fraternity of “artists”. Aren’t we? However, we need to pause here for a moment to discuss a few delicate questions. Have we really lived up to the exalted status the word “artist” confers on us? In other words, are we fulfilling the role and responsibility inherent in the spirit behind this word?

We need to find urgent answers if we sincerely wish to rejuvenate the art scene. Is the lackadaisical interest and half-hearted fake watches replique montre participation in the art exhibitions an indicator of the lack of significant art activity? Is the infrastructure needed to support and sustain this activity not adequate? Is the seriousness of commitment on the part of artist community lacking?

Or, do we hold the art organizations responsible for not managing things reasonably well? How do we seek better investment and participation of schools, colleges, families and society at large in creating awareness about the importance of art?

The health of any progressive, thriving and intellectually stimulating society, community and civilization depends on the honest answers to these questions.

Do we need to revive the time-tested and respected Guru Shishya Prampra in the field of visual and plastic arts as well? Of course, finding the Gurus and the seekers of their knowledge is another challenge! It is sad when one sees half-hearted attempts made in preparing “creations of art”, and the hurry to display, just to seek early recognition. There does not seem to be enough serious effort to learn the finer nuances of art.

There are definitely some who have very diligently played their role and lived every moment as seekers and travelers in search of the unknown;  even unheard, and rarely seen. There are others who seek profits without investment – of time, energy, intensity, concentration, deeper understanding of the socio-cultural milieu of their surroundings and environment.

It would be interesting to know how many artists in our region paint, sculpt, draw, or pursue creative activity on a regular basis as a classical musician or a dancer does? Do we really need to be reminded that it’s the riyaz or practice, along with the gift of God in the shape of talent or vision that shapes the finer nuances of any art discipline?

It goes without saying that we need to dedicate ourselves fully to our art with total commitment and concentration to achieve higher levels of perfection.

Legendary playwright Mohan Rakesh once said something like this “Pratibha shaksiyat ka pachchees pratishat hissa hai, shesh poorti prateeshtha se hoti hai”- (Talent is only twenty five percent part of the personality; the rest is developed through one’s effort and achievement).

It is a well-known fact that M. F. Hussain paints regularly and consistently; that much time was spent by Tyeb Mehta with his ideas, paints and brush; and how frequently the progressive artists group used to meet and discuss matters related to art, literature, theater, music, society, politics and other related issues.

An artist pursuing any discipline has to become one with his/her tools - canvas, paint, brush, pen, ink, camera, etc, in order to achieve that ultimate “truth” that reflects in any major and significant work of art. Once we invest in, relate to and feel about our tools on a regular and intimate manner, they then become an extension of our personality - an inseparable and integral part of our being.

If we fail to do so then, as a consequence, art loses its sheen, grip and impact on the mind of the viewer. So we need to focus on the commitment and intensity in this relationship of the artist with her/his tools.

With our society getting more and more inquisitive and showing a keen interest in artists and their creations, it calls for an even deeper scrutiny as to why Chandigarh is not becoming the kind of art center it so richly deserves to be. It also requires an urgent rethink on the part of artists’ community, art critics, art lovers and art managers.

Chandigarh and its premier art institute Government College of Art have produced some significant names in the field of art. But almost all of them have had to settle either in a far away metropolitan city or abroad to make a mark or get recognition. Despite the fact that our beautiful city, and one of the best, known for its quality of life and symbolizing freedom of human expression, provides an ideal setting for an artist.

How do we provide a fillip to quality art activity in the City? The art galleries, art institutes, museums and other art organizations need to make serious attempts to hold research-based curated shows. The serious art promoters and buyers go to Delhi and beyond to view and buy art, sometimes of the City-based artists from galleries in Delhi and Mumbai. We still require good institutes in the region, or perhaps in the entire country, that would offer courses for Curators, Art Managers and in Art Appreciation.

We still do not have good, informal forums for a healthy discussion or exchange of ideas. The Indian Coffee House and the Students Center in Panjab University - the only places where writers, poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, theater persons, philosophers and journalists used to meet and discuss matters concerning their art and the society, do not attract us any more. Why?

In smaller cities like Chandigarh we seek artistic inspiration from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Paris, New York and Berlin. Similarly, Chandigarh could also serve the purpose of being a guiding spirit to the states of Punjab, parts of Haryana, and to some extent Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi organises, in its own humble ways, events that could be seen to be contributing towards filling this gap to some extent. I sincerely feel that much more needs to be done if we genuinely wish to see a major and significant change in the art scene of the City and the adjoining areas. For this we need enthusiastic and full support of the artists and the public and the coming together of all who care for art and culture.

We need to understand that despite art objects attracting far more decent prices, and in some cases exceptionally high price tags, art should not and cannot be looked at as a mere commodity. It has, will and should primarily remain an object of aesthetic appeal, intellectual stimulation, store house of new ideas and a vision for the future of society.

We should desist from rating an art object, or its creator’s significance and contribution, from the price it attracts in auction houses, but by informed, researched and honest assessment.

Public participation is vital for the encouragement of art activity. In the past one year, there has been a dramatic increase in the support and participation of the citizens in events organized by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. This has boosted the morale of the artists and the Akademi.

Our aim should be to make Chandigarh a vibrant hub of artistic activities. We should not lose time in overcoming any hurdle in the natural evolution of the City as a cultural entity in its own right. This requires freshness of vision and a positive and healthy approach to shape our future.

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