Finding their calling in art

Delhi College of Art’s Annual Art Carnival held last week served as a platform for budding artists. Among the participants were youngsters, who fought off pressure from family’s emphasis on traditional courses, and a retired man who couldn’t follow his passion earlier due to family responsibilities

Finding their calling in art

Anmoll Dhawan (L), Shruti Gupta (top right), and Sanchita Agrahari (bottom right)

Sunil Bajaj, who spent nearly 40 years in the textile industry, even rising to the level of Chief Executive Officer of a company, decided to follow his passion after retirement. The period of lull during the COVID-19 pandemic rekindled his love for painting and he decided to take the plunge as soon as life returned to normal.

It helped that the week-long Annual Art Carnival by Delhi College of Art (DCA), held last week for the first time in two years post lockdown, provided him a platform to showcase his skills.
“I never believed I’d be able to give art another shot. I’ve always enjoyed art and painting, but other aspects of life kept me busy. The responsibility of earning a livelihood didn’t allow me time to pursue art,” said Bajaj, who stood out in a gathering of youngsters.

Bajaj proudly displayed his painting of a beautiful evening at a Banaras ghat.

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“I worked in the textile sector for nearly 40 years and retired as a CEO, but I always felt like I didn’t belong there. That’s when Covid-19 occurred, and with so much time on my hand, I decided to give art another opportunity, which is what brought me here,” he added before concluding, “Now that I’m retired, I’m going to display more of my work as well as my experiences and journey.”

The 18th edition of the carnival was attended by 105 artists who displayed 300 paintings. It appeared to be well attended.

“With the Annual Art Carnival we try to provide a platform to budding artists to showcase their talent,” said Ashwani Kumar Prithviwasi, founder and director of DCA.

“Being held after a gap of two years, we had our doubts and problems and there was also this plan in the back of my mind that maybe we can do it online again but I’m glad that we didn’t,” he said further.

While Bajaj is rediscovering his passion for painting after being tied down for decades with the responsibility of earning a livelihood, Shruti Gupta had to fight her family to pursue art.

Shruti, who is in her early 20s and hails from Narkatiaganj in Bihar, was initially discouraged from pursuing a career in fine arts as her family termed it an insecure profession.

She came from a family that felt art should be taken more as leisure and that for profession, one should pursue something which provides a reliable source of income like engineering or medicine.

Besides, since she had to move to Delhi alone, there was some opposition due to safety concerns.

“My choosing fine arts as a career came as a surprise to those around me,” she said.

But soon they were bought into it.

“It was my family’s [eventual] support that brought me here, and seeing my work appreciated among such veteran artists really makes me believe that I had made the right choice,” she explained.

“My work is a reflection of still life through some utensils and my main aim was to signify the relationship between gravity and objects. It was my first experience and I learnt a lot. I also learned about the intricacy one should have in their work in order to stand out,” said Shruti further.

Sanchita Agrihari, a student from Nepal, realised her calling lay in fine arts only after she had completed her first year in Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA). She immediately switched to Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).

“I wanted to take admission in BFA back in 2020 only, but then COVID-19 happened, so I had to wait for another two years to do what I wanted. But all this delay has made me love the chances and opportunities I get nowadays even more,” said the 23-year-old.

“I am actually keeping count of how many persons I’ve met and who have offered suggestions to me,” added Sanchita.

“None of this was planned, and the events that led to my arrival were unanticipated. I know that art and craft are not taken seriously in Nepal,” she said further.

“Here, I’ve met folks who have helped me comprehend art better. Our education has exposed us to artists from all over the country. These opportunities for me are similar to platforms like Indian Idol and Dance India,” she concluded.

Anmoll Dhawan, a second-year student at DCA, showcased a glass marking pencil titled ‘generational traffic’, which depicted the feelings, misery and grief one experiences when stuck in traffic.

Anmoll’s excitement and nervousness were visible on his face.

Asked about his interest in the craft, the 23-year-old said, “I started drawing when I was five years old and art and craft was something I always wanted to do. Although I wasn’t able to devote most of my time to art due to academic pressure, I later realised that if I want to pursue it as a career I need to fully focus on it and that’s when I decided to take up the diploma course at the Delhi College of Art.”

He continued, “It’s been two years, and the journey has been incredibly thrilling.”

This is his first show, and “the reception has been incredible which has made my parents incredibly proud”.

“My mother is still a bit critical [of me taking up this] but overall, all of this has given me a glimpse into my future, which I hope will be rewarding,” he added.

The walk to this opportunity was not easy since many of the artists had to experience struggles before landing it. But it seems, the journey has been worth it.

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