Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 520 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
In this photo essay series, we profile artworks and creative insights from the participating artists at Chitra Santhe 2021. See our full ten-part coverage here.
Hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, the 18th edition of the annual art festival was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The online exhibition wrapped up earlier this month, and featured over 1,000 artists from India and overseas.
See also YourStory’s coverage of six earlier editions of Chitra Santhe: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, as well as compilations of Top Quotes of 2020 on Art in the Era of the Pandemic, Indian Art, Art Appreciation and Practice, and Beauty and Business of Art.
“Art is how you see life, it might be joyful, happy or sad. It explores the innocent beauty towards the soul. Art can be seen in both inner and outer perspectives,” explains Naveen Appajigol, in a chat with YourStory.
For Naveen, success as an artist comes first by internal exploration. “Art is a continuous journey where learning and thinking are always constant,” he adds.
“Humans cannot live without the beauty of art and creativity, but art platforms should be made more easily accessible in society,” Naveen emphasises. This includes virtual exhibitions in the pandemic era.
For Chitra Santhe, he prepared a set of portraits using watercolours. The Germany-based artist charges around €150 for his artworks, but it varies with theme and size.
The pandemic taught important lessons for the artistic community, while also giving them opportunities to explore themselves and learn new things. “I would say on occasion we have to take opportunities in a positive way in bad times too,” Naveen observes.
He appreciates virtual exhibitions for the ease, affordability and low maintenance – and particularly for global exposure. “Yes of course I really miss the physical aspects of a traditional exhibition, but each type has its own different experience,” Naveen says.
“I really appreciate and am amazed at the way new and young artists are emerging these days. To them I would like to say, keep exploring art in your own way,” he suggests.
“Learn from everyone, and express it even if it may not seem ‘perfect.’ Uniqueness always belongs in the imperfections. So, happy painting,” Naveen advises aspiring artists.
“Every product made by humans has a touch of art. The higher the human civilisation, the higher the need for art,” explains Indonesian artist Tiarma Sirait.
“Art is not only exploration of the soul but exploration of new thoughts. The art world must continue to evolve according to the times,” she adds. For example, art in the pandemic era can also be about rethinking how we can save the world and humanity, and examine the greater benefits of art.
“Success for an artist comes from a balance of aspects like internal exploration, awards, and commercial success,” she observes. “At the end, all these achievements must also be returned to the community around us through social activities to make life more meaningful,” Tiarma suggests.
She calls for greater appreciation among people for the need of mutual cooperation and avoiding unhealthy competition and power struggles. Unfortunately, art budgets are often reduced because they are considered “less important for state sovereignty.” There should be more art collaborations focused on sustainability.
She appreciates the online nature of Chitra Santhe this year for giving better opportunities for international artists to showcase their artwork, in a safe manner. Her art works are priced from US $1,000 – $30,000.
During the isolation of the pandemic, Tiarma worked hard to stay focused, disciplined, creative and productive, and not get swayed by media sensationalism and misinformation. “What I learn from the pandemic is that the world needs to assist public health authorities and governments in responding to the public health crisis,” she observes.
“COVID-19 has made me even more aware that many people have died so suddenly, around the world. We need more reduction in burden, and promotion of cooperation,” Tiarma advises.
“With my perseverance, I will do whatever is in my power to fight or respond to the pandemic using my tools and language as an artist,” Tiarma says. “My inspiration is now to first conquer anxiety and fear, and stay vigilant, healthy and productive,” she adds.
The pandemic is not the first such disaster in the world, and is creating a new discourse about the art world. “When we get through this crisis, new ideas will flow and it will give new discourse to the world of art,” she observes.
“We will live with it long enough until we forget it’s there – and the next catastrophe happens,” she Tiarma adds.
“We have been jumping over many things that we never imagined before. We need to become like flowers who keep blossoming to beauty and peace in new areas,” Tiarma advises.
“Art to me cannot be defined. Creating a definition sets limitations to what art can be. I find that excitement and creative zeal is found outside of these boundaries and barriers, when your subconscious and conscious state come together and transfer themselves onto the canvas,” explains Ishana Girish.
The definition of artistic success also varies for her. “On some days, it could be the thrill and satisfaction of just completing a beautiful painting. On other days, it could be ideating a fantastical idea of what my next artwork could be,” she says.
“Sometimes, success could be in sales or commissions – or the proud feeling of overcoming procrastination and picking up my pen to simply begin,” Ishana evocatively describes.
She calls for greater awareness of art in society. “Art appreciation can vastly be improved by the simple understanding that every object and being around you is art. Every action and reaction is a design, and the functionality and simplicity of life stem from artistry,” Ishita emphasises.
“People often find things beautiful, yet fail to appreciate the work and time that goes into creating such mesmerising pieces of work,” she laments. “Valuing the physicality of art as much as one values the intangibility of beauty will change the art world as a whole,” she adds.
Her displayed works at Chitra Santhe reflect scenes around her, entwined within the realm of realistic surrealism. Her artworks are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs.50,000.
“The pandemic called for drastic changes not only in the way we live, but forced society into introspection, questioning current scenarios, and planning fresh beginnings,” Ishita observes. On a personal level, it was also an eye opener for her to understand her own sensitivities, sensibilities and productivity.
“While I pray for those who have suffered the virus, lost loved ones, or found themselves out of a job, I am grateful for the opportunities that have come my way,” she says.
“The gap has been filled with a crucial stone – one of the many in the foundation of my evolution. Turning professional has grounded me, bringing indescribable pleasures. Having said this, I will forever be a student of the arts and its inseparable, enthralling nuances and dynamics,” Ishita evocatively describes.
Her artworks span photography, videography, graphic design, and social media management. She launched her own website and has a network of clients for commissioned works. Ishita also took part in a range of dance classes, and expanded her creative community even more.
As for the online version of Chitra Santhe, she appreciates the convenience of being able to scout for artworks from the comfort of home. “However, it pains me that I am missing out on the social interaction of connecting with art lovers and buyers,” she laments.
“As a buyer myself, I enjoyed speaking to various artists and understanding the essence of their art and the reason for their drive and creations. That truly made me relook at their work in a different light,” Ishita recalls.
She also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Look for inspiration and creativity within your day to day life. Observe and soak in your environment,” she suggests. “Creation doesn’t necessarily need to come from sparks of motivation or a sudden burst of excitement, but it can also be a discipline,” she adds.
“That work ethic is what will set you apart if you are looking to be a professional artist. Find your balance,” Ishita signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?