“Open up and discover the incredible world of popular arts” – how digital platforms and exhibitions help artistic communities
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly column of Your story, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the previous 630 posts, we featured a arts festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom fair, millet fair, exhibition on climate change, wildlife conference, boot festival, diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath recently hosted an outstanding exhibition and workshop series, titled Vanishing Folk Arts of India. See First part and Part II of our photo report and coverage of previous exhibitions Chitra Santhe, Moghi’s Tales, Team Yuva Collective, Aadipaaya and Print India Biennale.
The event was organized by the International Gallery of Indian Folk Art (IIFAG), an Australian arts organization with deep Indian roots. There were also eight workshops on folk art forms such as pichwai, madhubani, gond, phad, warli, pattachitra, kangra, and bhil.
The workshop facilitators were Daulat Ram, Avadhesh Kumar Karn, Raman Singh Vyam, Abhishek Joshi, Anita Dalavi, Sushant Maharana, Vandana Rajah and Shanta Bhuriya.
The route of the exhibition
“My vision was to showcase as much Indian folk art as possible under one roof, offering art lovers the opportunity to experience the true depth of rapidly disappearing Indian art and culture,” says Senthil Vel, Founder of IIFAG, in a conversation with Your story.
The exhibition shows the similarity of folk tales as well as the differences in styles and beliefs. “Visitor feedback on this incredible experience has been truly rewarding. I wish we had more gallery space and more art forms,” he adds.
The IIFAG aims to support disadvantaged Indian folk artists by promoting and selling their artwork for sustainable lifestyle. It also enables the transfer of knowledge to the next generation through exhibitions and workshops.
There was a launch event in Mumbai earlier this year, followed by two events in Australia. Future events are scheduled in melbourne and Washington, said Senthil.
Purpose and impact
“I consider myself a privileged artist without having to worry about what will be on the table tonight. But unfortunately, this is the biggest concern for most traditional Indian artists who are struggling to make ends meet,” Senthil laments.
Many folk artists left the creative space and sought other jobs. “Such is the pathetic state of our artists. It is our responsibility to ensure that their art can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come,” he says.
“Success for us would be when every artist who left this industry would return to continue the tradition, when every child would feel this profession was as good or better than the others, and when every art buyer would purchase our traditional folk art with pride. without haggling over the price,” Senthil describes evocatively.
“In order to increase the appreciation of art in society, you have to find new ways to interact with the public,” explains Dushyant Dangi, founder of Tribal Art India, who participated in the exhibition.
“In modern internet society, attention spans have been reduced to a minimum. Even videos are reduced to between three and ten seconds,” observes Dusyant.
“The Internet can be an effective tool to reach more people and educate them about the history and culture associated with art,” he explains.
On the artistic side, it is important that the community works on the uniqueness of its art. “We must continue to innovate through experimentation. We also need to organize the history of the art and the meaning of the patterns in the paintings, so that the next generation can understand and learn more,” advises Dushyant.
In this regard, digital art and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) can open up new markets. “I think the objects and patterns of tribal paintings can also be used in the game industry than skins and styles,” he suggests.
Senthil observes that there is a lot of attention paid to Western art styles, but Indian folk art has been neglected during centuries of colonial rule. “A huge amount of investment has to be made by government and private organizations to bring more recognition for Indian folk art,” he suggests.
Pandemic and beyond
“The pandemic has aggravated the situation and accelerated the decline of Indian folk arts. This widened the gap between buyers and sellers. Artists who couldn’t reach buyers outside of their small shops simply left the industry,” Senthil recalls.
“There are also a lot of low-quality bric-a-brac made by DIYers learning from free YouTube videos. This has caused a lot of confusion in the market,” he adds.
The IIFAG plans to continue working on its core strategy of promoting Indian folk art online and through events. “We will continue to find highly experienced and skilled teachers who can help pass their knowledge on to the next generation,” Senthil points out.
The digital platform India tribal art actually started in the middle of the pandemic. “We had an excellent response throughout the period of COVID-19. For the artists, it was a very difficult time because there were no physical exhibitions and most of them usually depend on the offline market,” says Dushyant.
“Our next step is to get more tribal and folk artists to join us. Currently we are limited to gond, bhil and dokra artistic,” he explains.
Other steps include creating a studio space where artists can meet, collaborate and innovate in areas such as digital art.
Messages and impact
Dushyant also offers tips for budding artists. “Keep learning and growing. Adding uniqueness to your work is key. And don’t underestimate the power of the internet,” he suggests.
“Nothing in the world is easy. No success happens in a day. Every time you see a success that is supposed to have happened in a day, there are actually years of hard work behind it. improve yourself,” advises Dushyant.
“Learning from good guru Its very important. Understand the stories behind each artwork and share them with your art lovers,” suggests Senthil.
“It will create greater engagement and appreciation for our art and the rich culture it represents,” he adds. The media also plays an important role in raising awareness to revive India’s vanishing folk arts.
“There is no art or artists without buyers or art lovers. I can only invite art lovers to open up and discover the amazing world of Indian folk arts,” Senthil concludes.
Now what have you done today to take a break from your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?
(All photographs in the exhibition were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the exhibition.)
See also YourStory pocketbook “Proverbs and quotes for entrepreneurs: a world of inspiration for startups”, accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.
(Copy has been updated to correct a typo)