Art is too important not to share, says Brazilian artist Romero Britto. As the pandemic has put everything under lock and key, art galleries are no exception. But as says Britto that art needs to be shared, exhibitions are now put up on virtual platforms, artistes are engaging over Zoom and social media hosts live sessions for the art community.
The ongoing Open Hand Art Exhibition: Dedicating Art To The Masters from October 6 to November 6, is put on wordpress with 140 PDF pages with the works of artists from India, Sweden, Turkey, Bangladesh, France, Vietnam, Spain and Nepal. Each page has a work of art with the artist’s name, the country he belongs to and the work details. Some others like Varied Hues have uploaded art works on their Facebook and Instagram pages along with a slide on Youtube as well.
Art is something to be held, believes Diwan Manna, who as the president of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi organised an online exhibition of calligraphy on Bani of Guru Tegh Bahdur. He says, “It didn’t feel real. The world may have moved on to the digital bandwagon, but one must understand art is a different ballgame all together,” says Manna, pointing out, “An artist chooses charcoal or pencil, acrylic or oils pastels – keeping in mind the colour, texture, feel of a piece which cannot be felt virtually.”
Manna is often invited for art talks and exhibitions online. “One is now inundated with loads of images, some I would say not up to the mark. Zoom has quite democratised the art scene. Till we get back to normal, looks like we have to be content with digital exhibitions, even if it’s a shadow of the real art scene!”
Bheem Malhotra, chairperson, Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi, says that they are putting in their best under the current circumstances. “We went online in the first phase of the lockdown with works of Prem Singh and Viney Vadhera.” Since then the Akademi has put up seven such exhibitions, even organising their mega event the Annual Art Exhibition online. He, however, feels it is no match for a physical experience. “Having a direct dialogue with an original work is all together different. In virtual format, one cannot make out a work’s size, texture or colours.”
As people now wish to step out and visit art galleries, Malhotra says, “The Chandigarh Administration is considering bringing back the art experience to city folks. But one must ensure every possible precaution in times of Covid.”
One wonders if going digital has helped artists to reach out to a wider audience. “Despite being open to all, the number of visitors is limited to 100-150. An exhibition in a gallery pulls in almost double the number,” says Malhotra.
Manna feels if they had a way to know the number and prolife of visitors it would be interesting to see if new audience is created through the digital initiative. He says, “One can probably get in touch with students through their institutions and share invites. Of course, not all would be interested but some may take to art for now even school/college classes have moved online.”
Deepshikha Goyal, an artist and art curator, however, is happy with the response the Varied Hues’ first online international art exhibition is getting. “About 600 views on its first day are encouraging. It’s showcasing 30 artists from tricity, New Delhi, Karnal, Mumbai, Siliguri , Valencia (Spain), Vancouver (Canada), Chicago (US) and Dubai (UAE),” she says.