Artists’ affair with Delhi

ByProma Chakraborty

Dec 20, 2018

The Capital is a good place for artists from around the country to display their works and earn name and fame

Delhi’s inclination towards art is on a steady rise. Performance spaces, convention centers, private owned art galleries have mushroomed across the city especially in the southern part of the capital. Hosting countless artists from all over the country, the city never falls short of cultural events.

So how do these artists perceive the city’s art scene? While some of these artists are convinced that Delhi is the ‘cultural capital’ of the country, few others feel it is still a far cry from it. But what they all agree on is that art definitely sells in the capital.

Apart from hosting prominent artists from all over the country and beyond, the city has also transformed into a debut stage for all young and fresh talents. Take Bhavna Kakkar for instance. Director and founder of Gallery Latitude 28, a contemporary art space, Bhavna always attempts to introduce new emerging artists in her gallery.

“Delhi rules the roost” says Kakkar , when compared with other cities. “This is where the galleries and critics are. Because of universities here, there is a conversation around art. There are debates, walkthroughs — so much happening in the city. Therefore, artists get a different response from people,” she explains.

Kakkar believes that the responses from have also become increasingly positive. “Not just collectors, people who are not necessarily there to buy have made it a point to just visit. People will drop by to just check out the works, and that itself is enough.”

Like Latitude 28, several other galleries across the city serves as the launching platform for new artists. For them the city always turns out as a big breakthrough. For Japani Shyam, a Gond artist from Madhya Pradesh, the journey has been the same. “I first started showing my work to the public with Delhi. I always get a warm response, from art lovers here.”

It has been over a decade since her debut as an artist, yet till date she looks forward to going and displaying here work in the capital because of the vast visibility opportunity the city offers. “There are a lot of foreigners as well as Indians who comes to see my work there. In spite of having so many galleries already, people still visit them, and that is very critical for my work,” says Shyam , whose exhibition, ‘Gond Views’ just concluded in the city.

Not just visibility, the presence of educational institutions also acts in the city’s favour. “I think the presence of large institutions and foundations helps in developing the culture and also there’s an influx of student population from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ambedkar University and others, who become the young critical minds in the art social fabric,” says Priyanka D’Souza, a young artist based in Mumbai.

She believes that the city’s art scene is not flourishing just for collectors alone. “Where sales are concerned, with the assumption that wealthy investors in art are concentrated in the megacities like Delhi, art spaces and galleries are well networked and with the internet and communication facilities we have today, I don’t think that’s a problem.”

Not agreeing with this, multi-disciplinary artist Lallan, says, “It’s all very capital driven. There is more buying power for art here. Artist flock to the capital to make a living and to survive as artists. In India, it’s still more of drawing room art, there is not much concept of public art and art for art’s sake. People in Delhi mostly attend for the sake of a party of just another event during the weekends.”

Whatsoever be the reason, artists are increasingly choosing the galleries in the capital to display their work. But, despite having several galleries in the city, artists still have a difficult time to find spaces to exhibit their work. “Finding an available gallery becomes a very arduous task here,” says Masuram Ravikanth, a new media artist from Hyderabad. Working with new techniques and technologies in new media, he does not get much takers and interested viewers of his work back at home. “People are very responsive in Delhi. They show interest in my work and the market for my art is available here,” he adds.