Creative domains, no matter the discipline, have forever remained competitive spaces— everyone’s busy sprinting in the rat race. In fact, these are also highly unforgiving to young talent. The art world is no different. If one were to examine the number of art schools across the length and breadth of our country, and the influx of creatives in the art scene on an annual basis, one will realise that, despite an abundance of talent, not everyone gets their due here.
Giving us an insight into this, Indian natural dye artist Ruby Jagrut, who founded Abir India—an Ahmedabad-based non-profit that was launched in 2016 provides a platform for emerging artists to display their work and promote them—shares, “India has around 300 art schools (registered and nonregistered), or maybe more. But, we might know just about 10 schools; you start naming them and you’ll start fumbling after seven schools. What happens to the 200+ art school graduates who are aspiring artists? How do they find their space in this field? I started Abir India to work with emerging artists as I want people to take note of their work.”
To make this vision a reality, Abir India introduced an annual arts festival titled ‘First Take’. Now in its sixth edition and happening for the first time in Delhi, First Take 2022 is currently ongoing at Bikaner House—it commenced on November 12 and will end on November 18.
An eye for art
The First Take format includes accepting open-call submissions from artists across India, artists send their works via digital platforms. Post this, an anonymous jury goes through the works. This year, Abir India received 2,200 art submissions from 309 cities across India.
Finally, after a sifting process, the final works were selected by a jury comprising eminent artists GR Iranna, Jayaram Poduval, Manisha Parekh, Manjunath Kamath, and Ramesh Vedhanbatla. Among the selected works, 10 artists were awarded keeping in mind their expression and creativity.
Damohbased Adarsh Palandi, Anshu Kumari from Jharkhand, Bikas Chandra Senapati from Odisha, Natasha Sachdeva and Sushant Rawal from Delhi, Riddhi Vasoya from Gujarat, Yash Pal from Ghaziabad, Sanyukta Kudtarkar from Mumbai, Varanasi-based Shambhavi Singh, and Kolkata’s Sayantan Chakraborty won the award this year.
By means of another show titled ‘Rekindled Spirits’, Jagrut gave awardees from past editions of First Take an opportunity to be noticed by the art world. Among the slew of artists, we spoke to Natasha Sachdeva, a Delhi- based artist whose works are a commentary on body image; she celebrates the imperfections of the female body through her art.
Sachdeva concluded, “Whenever you see art, figures are always in their best shape and they’re beautified. For my work, since I have seen both extremes when it comes to weight, I realise we will always be judged and we will never be enough [for society]. So, in a way, I am celebrating [imperfections of] the body.”