Artists’ Camp Supports Nanda Devi

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DEHRADUN (July 2, 2005): A workshop for painters and sculptors organised by Delhi’s ‘Nav Siddhartha Art Group’ in support of the ‘Nanda Devi Campaign’ took place for the second year in a row in the salubrious environs of ‘Vidya Bhavan’ in Herbertpur.

The workshop began on 22 June and wound up on 28 June. All the creative work during this time will be auctioned by the group in Delhi and the proceeds will be donated to the ‘Nanda Devi Campaign’. As many as 22 artists took part.

According to well-known sculptor Asurvedh, who is the President of the Group, this is not the first time that this association of painters and sculptors from all over the country have taken up a social cause.

Answering questions in the midst of canvases being framed and wood being prepared for creative activity, he said they first came to know about the ‘Nanda Devi Campaign’ from friends and its website. On finding its objectives of community based development in conformity with their own ideals, these young and established artists decided to lend a hand. They got in touch with Uttarakhand based NGO ‘Janaadhar’, which is coordinating the campaign, and the workshop came into being.

“Commercial pressure greatest challenge for present day artists”

Briefing Garhwal Post further about the activities of the Group, Asurvedh said it was established in ’89 by fourteen up-and-coming artists to provide a platform to senior artists to interact with their juniors, whom they would not otherwise know of or meet. This is what made it possible for the likes of Satish Gujral, for instance, to exhibit on the same shows with newcomers.

In 2001, the Group took up organising its popular ‘Contemporary Painting and Sculpture in Miniature Format’. In this, painters are required to work on a one foot by one foot format. According to Asurvedh, not only has this reinvention of tradition been a challenge for artists, it has proved a big hit with art-lovers. So far, over 200 artists have participated, including big names like Sankhu Chaudhary, Ved Nayar, Gogi Sarojpal, etc.

The Group also holds camps of the type being held in Herbertpur. The last one was held in Kota. Another is being planned in Hamirpur to protest the desecration of historical works and sites of art, as was carried out in Bamiyan. There is also an annual art exhibition, as well as ‘Shraddhanjali’ exhibitions in memory of artists who have passed away.

As regards the Nanda Devi Campaign, the Group intends to extend its support in the future also. On the anvil is a ‘Kala Mela’, which would have the participation of artists from all over India, so that the theme could be continued.

Asked about the kind of artists taking part in the camp, Suresh Kumar, Secretary of the Group, disclosed that they were all established artists, many of whom were also art teachers in universities, colleges and schools.

Asked about the new trends in Indian art, the artists present said that although abstract work continued to be popular, a shift was taking place towards realistic and figurative work. In sculpture, the most popular medium was metal, followed by stone, with fibre-glass finding rapid popularity.

They also pointed out that the greatest challenge being faced by artists today was the commercial pressure being applied by the brokers, who had little sense of art and applied tremendous pressure for ‘saleable’ work.

They also lamented that the media, too, was neglecting art, with many reputed newspapers having dropped their columns on it.

On how computer applications were making an impact on the art scene, they said a ‘mixed medium’ had emerged with excellent results. They denied that technology was about to replace the artist. It had also not led in any way to a reduction of the artists’ skills. Basically, they emphasised that new media could not be ignored.

Some of the paintings inspired at the camp that will soon be auctioned in Delhi

Interestingly, none of those present attributed their style to ‘foreign’ influence. All felt that Indian art had progressed to the point that it was enough to ensure continuation of skills and tradition. At the same time, however, they expressed regret that taste for art had not sufficiently developed among art buyers in India, resulting in brokers having excessive influence.

Janaadhar’s Dr Sunil Kainthola told Garhwal Post that the artists were financing the entire trip and his organisation had only been asked to arrange the materials and manage the camp.

Participating in the camp are Mohan Kumar, Asurvedh, Amit Dutt, Suresh Kumar, Manoj Agarwal, Devi Dass Khatri, RS Akela, Pradeep Chouhan, Manoj Tawar, Rajesh Chand, Hirdaya Prakash, Asit Kumar Patnaik, Anup, Rakesh Shani, LN Rana, Umesh Prashad, Shiv Kumar, JP Kumar, Ajay Rana, Ganga Dhar, Manohar and Pradeep Saurabh.

— By Ashok P. Mishra
Garhwal Post, June 26 – July 2, 2005