Chitra Santhe at Chitra Kala Parishath

For the past few years, Chitra Kala Parishath (CKP) has been organizing an annual art event, Chitra Santhe (Art Fair) in and around the CKP campus and its environs. It has become a fairly important event in the art scene of the city.

This year, the gate of CKP was beautifully decorated as usual:

250109 CKP Chitre Santhe

The slogan of the Santhe highlighted the symbiotic relationship between artists and their patrons….

artists need patrons slogan 250109

CKP also used the opportunity to hightlight some of the other initiatives they are carrying out, such as ICKPAC, the art conservation effort:

ickpac conservation poster

The range of geographical locations represented at the Santhe was phenomenal, and there were the special groups, too, such as this one:

art and culture for the deaf

The elite, did not walk with the hoi polloi, but  took an electric car up and down the street:

the elite don't walk 250109

However, some well-known artists did decide to walk around and have a detailed look at all the stalls. Here’s Balan Nambiar, Bangalore’s well-known artist, photographer and sculptor:

balan nambiar at Chitra Santhe

Balan mentioned that he would, ideally, have asked for certificates of originality or authenticity from the participating artists… but how, I asked, would that be possible, with at least a hundred Raja Ravi Varmas selling their paintings right in front of us!

tanjore and ravi varma 250109

I also met and talked to Vinal, who is in her fourth year at CKP. She feels that the location of the stall plays quite an important role in the quantum of sales. Last year, she says, she was close to the CKP gate, and sales were very good; this year, the location is further away, and the sales are far less. "You can guage, in the first hour or so, how the day’s sales will be," she shrugs. "Most people come to see, but there are few serious buyers…"

However, everyone I spoke to was unanimous that the placement of stalls was very  fair. A week prior to the event, artists had to fill in their applications,and stalls were randomly allocated. CKP did not charge for the service, and what the artists make from their sales is theirs alone.

Artwork was not very varied, though; the most part of what was on sale was oil on canvas, sketches, or photographs. I found very few works of sculpture, indeed, and so it was refreshing to see these small terracotta pieces of an artist from Kolkata:

sculptress from Kolkata

There was a lot of what I call artisanship rather than art….paintings of paintings, hackneyed themes, and over-bright colours which spoke of little experience in the art field. But there was some outstanding work, too, and many buyers walked away with tremendous bargains!

Here’s the work of a group of young photographers who take images of Bangalore every weekend, as their name, Bangalore Weekend Shoots ( URL : http://www.flickr.com/groups/bws)   suggests:

250109 wknd blr shts

Alas, cleanliness is NOT next to creativity. The amount of trash generated on the street was awful, and there were no proper trash  bins provided by the BBMP at all. So there was a a lot of non-artistic trash everywhere….we may have art-minded citizens, but they are certainly not civic-minded.

trash at Chitra Santhe 250109

Everywhere, artists were doing sketches, portraits and caricatures for a pittance. Here’s Santosh from Gulbarga:

Santosh from Gulbarga

The talent that these artists showed was truly overwhelming and humbling, and brought out how difficult it is, in India, to make a living from the fine arts, unless one has broken into the big league.

I met the family of a wildlife photographer from Mysore, Lokesh Mosale, who had recently exhibited at the Chitra Kala Parishath as well, with his cousin, Gowresh Kapani.

lokesh mosale's family 250109

Several local scenes and views obviously have inspired the artists. Here’s the ubiquitous autorickshaw, along with views of Hampi:

auto pic 250109

As a parting shot, the difficulty of making money as an artist was brought home to me by the sight of these sandals abandoned in the gutter at one of the road…it brought home to me, forcibly, that well-known phrase, "barefoot artist", with all the associations of financial troubles that it awakes in one’s mind!

chappals 250109

However, the Chitra Santhe is still a great opportunity for artists and the patrons of art to meet face-to-face without the "middleman" (the art galleries, who often charge both rent as well as a percentage of sales from the hapless budding artists!) and it’s a great initiative which will, hopefully, go from strength to strength in the coming years!

The festive, Bohemian atmosphere of the street on the Santhe day, and the willingness of so many Bangaloreans to pay a visit, is surely a heartening sign!

Sandeep’s photos of the event are at

http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/762-art-chitra-santhe-2009

…take a look!

Deepa Mohan
About Deepa Mohan 715 Articles

Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Deepa

    Nice travelogue ( or Artlogue ) of the Chitrasanthe. I am already looking forward to the next one.

    Terracotta pieces pic is really good.

    keep writing

    sunil

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