Publication: Hindustan Times
By Bala Sundaresan
The idea of smart cities has fascinated the country, but does this potential smart city also have a place for art?
“The idea of Chandigarh is imported and for art to flourish, it has to connect to its roots. In other cities, everything grows from the ground organically, but this city is inorganic,” says painter-turned-sculptor Avtarjeet Dhanjal, born in Ludhiana district, based in the UK, and one of the 10 big artists at the four-day International Art Conclave of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi.
For him, art should be part of life. “Chandigarh’s 80 to 90% people are from villages. There, the walls were their canvas. Here, the women are afraid it would spoil the house,” said Dhanjal, standing at Government Museum, next to the art school where in the 1950s he had started his journey to global fame.
Can the architectural marvel of Le Corbusier spur a new generation of artists, or will art in the city see a slow decay. Richard Deacon, one of Britain’s top sculptors, sees hope in Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, “a piece of homegrown high-quality artwork, evidence of the fact there is possibility in this city”. “Its controlled population, high per capita income, and open spaces can give art a good opportunity to thrive,” said the multiple-award winner.
The best art comes from history’s womb, and Chandigarh that came up in 1966 isn’t rich in years, in the views of German artist Gerd-Alois Zwing. “It is not yet 50, which is not a fault. Probably, in a thousand years, it will have much art to talk about,” he said.He finds Le Corbusier’s idea “nice that it is rigid, due to which, people will have to discover their own identity and expression.” firstname.lastname@example.org
People here feel they do not belong to this place. Help them connect to their roots, and allow them to use the city to express themselves as they would do in a village. Avtarjeet Dhanjal, Indian-origin sculptor
Chandigarh needs a major architecture school, to exploit the unique collection of foreign and Indian architecture around it, and the unique history of this place. Richard Deacon, British sculptor
The city requires public art, at least 30 art installations at various places. It will help people identify with the city in a different way and break the monotony. Diwan Manna, chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi, Chandigarh