writes copy 08 Nov 2019

21 artists 200 artworks 6 countries: Art Bengaluru 2019 festival kicks off a month of celebration

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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 400 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

The ninth edition of the Art Bengaluru festival brings together 21 artists from across the world, including Netherlands, US, France, Saudi Arabia, and India (see our coverage of earlier editions here). The month-long festival, held at UB City, features around 200 works of art: paintings, glass sculpture, installations, video projects, photography, and mixed media.

The international artist lineup features Afra Khan (Saudi Arabia), Daan Oude Elferink (Netherlands), Jordan Sitzer (US), and Pierre Poulain (France). The section on emerging artists has works by Alayna Zaid (Bengaluru), Rupak Munje (Chennai), Sanjana Srikanth (Bengaluru), and Shoeb Dastagir (Bengaluru).

The lineup of established artists from India includes Anil Ijeri (Bijapur), Anni Kumari (Delhi), Chandrahas Y Jalihal (Gulbarga), Haribaabu Naatesan (Mumbai), Hariram V (Chennai), Harsh Nowlakha (Kolkata), Harshit Agrawal (Bengaluru), Pradeep Kumar DM (Bengaluru), RM Palaniappan (Chennai), Rekha Krishnamurthy (Bengaluru), Sruthi Kumar (Kerala), Venugopala HS (Bengaluru), and Vijit Pillai (Hyderabad).

“Art is a silent statement of time, and an exploration of the soul into space and matter,” explains distinguished artist RM Palaniappan, in a chat with YourStory. He studied at the Government College of Arts Crafts, Chennai, as well as Tamarind Institute (US). He was the Artist in Residence at the Oxford University, and has won several awards and fellowships. His artworks and workshops have been featured in over a dozen countries, and he has served as a curator and juror for a range of exhibitions and competitions.

“From the beginning, my creative approach and development are very open,” Palaniappan says. “In the process of involving creativity, I understood that making art requires only a silent search with your playfulness towards the imaginative objects you create in your inner world,” he adds.

His works reflect his deeper interest in astronomy, mathematics, science, psychology, and philosophy. His exhibition in Sublime Galleria, titled ‘In and Out Journey', features linear sequences that reflect the connections between energy, space, journeys, and consciousness.

The perception of known to unknown and visible to invisible or vice-versa is always a drama behind the surface of art, he adds. Looking outside and seeing inside are different experiences; seeing with and without emotion are also two different experiences.

Palaniappan’s artistic journey has spanned graphical art, printmaking, mixed media works, and large drawings. They have been displayed at galleries, museums, festivals, and biennales around the world. His next projects involve sculptures made from copper, bronze, wood and fibre. As trends in Indian art, he points to the rise of new media art, use of ‘found objects’, and ceramics.

Palaniappan also conducts workshops on art. “I like teaching very much because it gives you scope for sharing your knowledge with others, and will push you further in getting wisdom,” he explains.

He defines success for himself in terms of inner happiness and mastery of techniques. “My inner travel with personal history is more important than any commercial success, though commercial success supports material execution,” he explains.

Commercial value is determined by art curators, dealers, connoisseurs, and art lovers. “But the sensibilities and metaphysics are the core of art through its variable realities and aesthetics, and finally, that fixes the value of art,” Palaniappan explains.

For better appreciation of art in India, he recommends inclusion of art in primary education and museum studies at the secondary level. Government and corporates need to support art and its activities as well.

Palaniappan urges audiences to first view a work of art silently, without interpretation. “Allow the artwork to speak in its own voice,” he advises. Seeing more artworks, reading articles of art writers, and brushing up on art history help understand the core of art.

“Work constantly with confidence. Connect your artworks with yourselves instinctively, without looking for commercial success in the beginning,” he recommends, as tips as to aspiring artists.

The festival also marked the India debut exhibition titled ‘Reflections and Propagations in Love,’ by India-born Jeddah-based artist Afra Khan. “Art – whether music, visuals or words – is a medium to explore and express ideas about the unseen and mysterious about life, philosophy and the universe,” she explains. Art also helps explore concepts that are obsessive to the artist through which a personal evolution can be achieved.

Afra describes herself as an ardent student of Kabbalistic mystical philosophy and planetary futurism, reflected in the ‘Neptunic’ atmosphere of her visual work. “A common theme that ties all my work, regardless of the medium, is the exploration of duality, the multiverse, alternate dimensions, and consciousness,” she explains.

Afra’s other works include the music video ‘The Prophecy’ (selected for the Techno & the City art exhibition at Fiumano Art Gallery in London). It was featured along with techno music founders like Juan Atkins, Underground Resistance, and Jeff Mills. Her other works were also included at Expo Electro at the Philharmonie de Paris, alongside visual works of legendary electronic musicians like Daft Punk and Kraftwerk.

“Being successful for me is the marriage between being able to explore, express and share my work, secure myself financially through the commercial success of my art, and be recognised for my work as being meaningful to the consciousness of all beings,” Afra says.

At Art Bengaluru, she displayed a photographic series inspired by the Emerald Tablet's core wisdom, "As above, so below." Legend has it that the tablet is inscribed with the secrets of the universe. Afra says she was pleased with the appreciation she got at the exhibition, particularly when another young artist said it inspired her to exhibit her own work.

The photographs, priced at around Rs 1 lakh, are a digital manipulation of the Hijazi architecture shot in the historical Al Balad district in Jeddah, and present an analogous inner-outer path to the development of a human being. “Interestingly, the project was the result of a mistake that occurred during the photographs' post-production process,” Afra jokes.

“Allow art the ability to expand your physical senses and consciousness, so take your time in reflecting upon what it’s trying to share with you. Sometimes it’s nice to take time out alone with just art, because in solitude is when the most clarity and revelation is found,” Afra advises audiences.

She also offers tips to aspiring artists. “Artists can be as powerful as politicians in advocating for and influencing policies by being sensory antennae of society. Art continues to be a powerful medium of influence in our time,” she observes.

“All artists share the responsibility of creating work that transforms the experience of the viewer by offering hope, inspiration, and a means toward evolution,” Afra signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and find ways to creatively and positively impact the world around you?

RM Palaniappan

Afra Khan

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