Monday, August 16, 2010

Paradise Lost and !

Dear Readers,

Here is a post published by Mr Kapil Chopra, art collector, hotelier and also one of the mentors of on his blog Please enjoy the coverage on the country's leading art initiative.

Warm regards


When it comes to the creativity, I believe no place in India is as synonymous with art as Calcutta — the history, heritage and culture of the city are all redolent of art. Some of the most important galleries which started supporting Indian art long before people really began buying it, like CIMA, have been based here. But for the last few years, a lot of Contemporary Art events and also some of the most important shows have not been happening in the city. However, that looks set to change — especially with significant art initiatives like the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA) coming up in the city.

Shrapnel-Detail from Chamber, an acrylic on hand made paper pasted on board, by Veer Munshi

Other harbingers of a pick-up in activity are that India’s only gallery selected for the prestigious Frieze Art Fair in London, Experimenter, is from Calcutta. And I take heart about the art scene in the city from looking at the programming of key galleries like CIMA, Akar Prakar, Aakriti and see how everything is changing.

Also, what intrigues me is that a senior artist who has spent nearly all his painting career in Delhi and is originally from Kashmir, should go to Calcutta for his monumental solo show. But then, that’s the intrigue and mysticism of Calcutta in the art world. Veer Munshi, opens his show on August 3 at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, curated by Ranjit Hoskote.

I had the opportunity to preview Veer’s show and you can see that the slightly older school in the Contemporary Art space follows the rules in what goes into making great art. The works are a reflection of the current times in Kashmir and Veer’s journey over the years in a place that he loves so much, where he grew up and that are all about breathtaking scenic beauty and “paradise on earth”.

His photographic series on “Pandit Houses” is reminiscent of the Hindu Brahmin architecture, but the desolate and dilapidated houses also point to the stark reality of the migration of Kashmiri Pandits who had to leave these magnificent homes behind due to terror threats. Veer travels around Kashmir to capture these haunting images of majestic houses just left as ruins in the beautiful landscape.
Pandit House, a photograph on archival paper, by Veer Munshi
Veer also draws your attention to works like Shrapnel that reflect the pain and angst of a generation caught between terrorist organisations and the government. That’s a sad reflection on what is happening in Kashmir today from someone who has lived half his life there. The works will strike a chord as it is art that reflects on the political and social equation and emotional trauma in Kashmir — all captured in Veer’s works and through his lens.

Turning away for a moment from Calcutta, another interesting initiative which has just been launched online is Every year over 1,200 artists graduate from art colleges and only a handful of them make it to top galleries. Most abandon their dreams and due to financial constraints their talent comes to naught.

But now they are getting a new platform. is a collective initiative by some of India’s top art collectors, curators and gallerists to give everyone an equal opportunity platform to display and sell their art. (I must state a vested interest here as I am involved in supporting this initiative).

It’s not for profit and it allows any artist while in college or even someone who has graduated as long as a decade ago to load up to five works at prices decided by the artists. The quality of the art and the prices are reviewed by a curatorial board which urges the artists to price the works right so that collectors can buy.

We see excellent quality work uploaded by artists like Ashis Mondal, who paints a shirt which has been spoilt by ink leakage. This is actually a satire on the fact that a careless leakage without protection can also lead to AIDS.
A Little Negligence by Ashis Mondal
I always hear ‘we love art but can’t afford the prices’ and ‘how do we know that what we buy is authentic’. Well, the average prices on this site are below Rs 20,000 and no work can be priced over Rs 99,000. There are even works for as low as Rs 1,800.

The key is for all of us to support art in our country — either by visiting events or by acquiring art which is within our individual budgets. So whether it’s attending a heart-stopping show by Veer Munshi or supporting an online art initiative that could give you something very affordable to brighten your walls, this monsoon season is all about living with art!

Kapil Chopra

1 comment:

  1. I had first read this article by Mr Kapil Chopra in a magazine (Graffiti; Telegraph). There is no doubt that an endeavour like will help many a struggling artist to sell their art works or atleast make them more visible.

    Meanwhile, I am facing a unique problem in this site. I am an artist and have posted 5 paitings in the webiste. However, by mistake the same painting 'Soulmates' have been posted twice. One under the head 'Soulmates' and the other under the head 'Rythme divine'. I need to delete this painting under the head 'Rhthme divine' so that I can post another painting (the original version of ryhthe divine). I will be grateful if anyone can help me in this regard.