Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 515 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 more artworks and creative insights from the participating artists at Chitra Santhe 2021. See our earlier eight-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 has wrapped up this week, 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.
“To paint is to show a bit of your soul. Painting is a journey one takes inwards, carving out expressions of one’s own divine being onto paper,” explains Amballika Tripathi, in a chat with YourStory. She is on quite a journey from the corporate world to spirituality as an artist and entrepreneur.
She now runes the Sakriya Centre for Emotional Wellness, at MG Road in Bengaluru. Amballika cites an inspiring quote by Henry Ward Beecher: Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.
She also likens art to childbearing. “Once impregnated with creative grace (the idea stage), you nurture and grow it to fructification on paper,” she evocatively describes.
Success for an artist is about the intangible, she adds. “The word ‘success’ has been taught to us very early in our lives to be a very tangible attainment. But as we evolve, we come to the realisation that the true worth of this word comes when it is experienced intangibly,” Amballika says.
“Success is not just about achievements or possessions, but what we develop and practice,” she explains. “Art has helped me deep dive into my spirituality, soak it in divine ‘Soma,’ and brought to life an inner strength that I can today share with whosoever sees my artwork,” she proudly says.
Amballika calls for more art appreciation in society. “We should set up more pop-up art shows in neighbourhoods, encouraging home-grown artists to participate. The emerging artist scene is buzzing with activity. More thinktanks and labs can be set up to guide artists on how to make their art scalable, and learn the business aspects of art,” she suggests.
She points to the wide presence of art in India right from the Harappa age, in temples, mosques, churches and other monuments. “Fresco art in caves around Maharashtra, the simple rangolis outside homes, The Ram Leela depictions every year, Holi – the list is endless,” she marvels.
“The digital era has many a benefit, however, one must re-train the eye to look around at nature, and bring back these fading arts,” Amballika advocates.
As an alumnus of Chitra Kala, she feels like she has come full circle participating in its Chitra Santhe exhibition. “I feel blessed to be able to connect with audiences and share a piece of my heart with them,” Amballika says.
“The paintings I have shared for this exhibition revolve around Maa, the divine, universal Mother, our own creative energy that is present in both man and woman,” she explains.
“At the onset of starting a new painting, I invoke that element of divinity in myself. I offer a Sankalpa (invocation) to the universe, I become a conduit that channels the higher energy that works through me,” Amballika explains.
She uses visualisation techniques learnt from Thangka art, or Tibetan Art mainly around the Shakta philosophy. “Throughout the journey of bringing the painting to life, it is steeped in mantra chanting and smudging the energies around,” Amballika describes.
Once the painting is consecrated, it acts like a mandala that forever cleanses the space. “I would say it is a piece of ‘heART’ that the divine Mother births through me,” she adds. The “energy exchange” or price for her artworks ranges from Rs 39,000 to Rs 159,000.
Prior to the pandemic, Amballika worked at a Fortune 500 investment bank and pursued art and other healing modalities on weekends. “COVID-19 brought out the artist in me to the mainstream,” she says.
“I realised the time has come to give back to humanity, share this unbridled, unconditional love I feel for live. The time has come to share this hope and trust. I feel that whatever nature does is only for our highest good. What better way to share this perspective than a spiritually-infused energy painting,” Amballika philosophically explains.
Though she appreciates online exhibitions for the lower costs and greater convenience, she misses the real flavour and dialogue of physical exhibitions. “The human interactions only come alive on a physical platform,” she says.
Amballika offers tips for aspiring artists as well. “Keep asking yourself How does it get better than this? Go with the ebb and flow of your heart as your artwork mirrors your state of mind,” she advises.
“For me, art is therapeutic. I really get immersed in my work when inspiration strikes,” explains Ginelle Sequeira. For Chitra Santhe, she prepared a range of pieces using an acrylic pouring technique.
“I really enjoyed creating them and the effects I achieved were really beautiful too. These pieces are budget friendly. I wanted to make sure everyone could own art and not burn a hole through their pockets,” she says. Some of her artworks begin at Rs 1,500 while others go up to Rs 25,000.
She says she was not able to create any art during the pandemic. “But I did get to donate some of my work towards an online auction for an NGO, and that felt very rewarding,” Ginelle proudly says.
She found the online exhibition to be a mixed experience. “An online exhibition has a much wider reach compared to a physical one. But customers tend to be less impressed as they don’t get to see the pieces in terms of actual size and colour,” Ginelle laments.
The virtual impression is very different from the real-life experience. “And of course, patrons don’t get to meet the artist,” she adds.
“If you do anything consistently and you do it well, success will find you,” Ginelle advises aspiring artists.
For Bengaluru-based artist Akshatha Rao, art is a form of expression, a visual way of expressing thoughts. Success for an artist comes from the contentment of creating art itself. “It’s an inner feeling that can’t be expressed. When people look at the artwork, they should be able to understand the emotion behind it,” she explains.
For greater appreciation in society, Akshatha feels it must begin with children. “Art must be introduced to people at a very young age. When they grow up, they will be able to recognise art around them,” she says.
For Chitra Santhe, she prepared works themed on nature, people and their stories. Her artworks are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 30,000. “The theme was about human emotions and animal relationships,” Akshatha explains.
The pandemic period was a particular challenge for her. “For an artist like me who paints what she sees around her, it was definitely a disadvantage. But I did get a lot of time to improve my skills as artist,” she says, looking at the other side.
In an online exhibition, Akshatha says she misses the kind of personal interaction of a physical event, which is much more effective.
She also offers advice for aspiring artists. “Art is something which can be created by the blessed ones who understand it. So go for it,” Akshatha signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to grow your creativity?