Art cannot be reserved for the elite and the wealthy: Rakhi Sarkar


By Sukant Deepak

New Delhi, February 18 (IANS): “Our aim has been to provide a platform for young Indian artists, especially those coming from small towns and semi-rural areas of the country. We are happy with how the project has impacted the lives and young artists’ careers. Galleries, universities and institutions have absorbed much of the talent that has emerged from the CIMA Awards,” says Rakhi Sarkar, founder of CIMA (Centre of International Modern Art), one of the leading centers of Indian art.

The recently concluded fourth edition of the CIMA Visual Arts Awards saw 183 works of art from across the country shortlisted for the final round by the preliminary jury and 13 winners and their works selected by the final (jury ).

Widely known for creating the “Affordable Art Mela” which aims to bring art back into the public domain by providing an opportunity to buy art at affordable prices, Sarkar who brought the “mela” to Delhi (2018 ) and in Mumbai (2020) after a positive reception in Kolkata for more than a decade, says: “To appreciate beauty, excellence and talent remains the right of every individual. If you accept this, then art does not cannot remain the prerogative of only the rich and the elite. We hope to extend it to non-metropolises as well”, she adds.

Interestingly, several major artists offer their works for the mela at much lower costs. “They provide support to provide young professionals and intellectuals with the opportunity to collect serious art at affordable prices. The ‘mela’ aspires to promote young collectors,” explains Sarkar.

This decade-long founder and managing director of the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA) laments that curation has yet to find its way into the Indian art scene and says it is not practiced seriously here.

“There is no possibility of getting training in art institutions and museums. Conservation has a practical angle. You learn first-hand through experience in the field. It involves imagination and creative flair. The investigative side involves research and scholarship, but the final narrative and presentation needs creativity and flair. We need a seamless integration of the two elements.

Talking about how most galleries have adopted a hybrid model in the face of the pandemic, she believes that digital is an alternative and certainly better than not showing at all, and to some extent bridges the gaps between destinations .

“However, this virtual mode cannot replace physical exhibits without which the scale and real visual impact is completely lost,” she says.

Adding that what most artists have been through in the past two years requires some sort of umbrella organization boasting a public-private partnership that extends help in such difficult times, she clarified: “The recent past has seen so many artists from all walks of life going through immense financial insecurity. An organization on such lines can ensure some kind of support during a huge crisis like the one we have witnessed in the form of the pandemic.

Ten years ago, in her capacity as Chairperson of the FICCI Arts Council for the Ministry of Culture, GOI, Sarkar had recommended, through a detailed policy framework document, a total overhaul of the schools curriculum of art, in partnership with leading visual arts faculties around the world. world, but unfortunately nothing has been implemented yet.

“The art school curriculum is miserably outdated and the 19th century model is still in use. The conceptual side of artistic creation is totally neglected and the theoretical framework is very sketchy and inadequate. Until the level of education improves, the quality and depth of artistic practice will remain severely hampered, Sarkar says.

Speaking of the multiple private art foundations that have sprung up in the country, particularly in Kolkata, she said, “It is excellent that several art institutions are springing up in the private sector. room for more across the country, given the vastness and variety of India, these art institutions play a vital role in the promotion and development of art.


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