A walk through the Art Fair 2014 was quite a fascinating experience with a 100 boxes spread across the room, all painted in different patterns. An initiative by 18 artists from the city, this was the fair’s debut that aimed at promoting and bringing together artists across the city to a common platform for the public.
In their efforts to do things differently, the group finally decided to swap the canvas for a box of the same dimensions for the 100 artists who participated.
“The idea has been at the back of our brains for quite a long time now. We have been wanting to make it an annual affair where artists and art lovers can come under one roof to discuss the craft,” explained Mangurish, one of the organising artists. By giving the participants a different medium to paint on, the exhibition also helped artistically challenge the artists, giving every box a unique signature style. Each box displayed different features related to cultures and traditions that we share. The artists who participated in the fair were either performing artists or sculptors who wanted to let the people of Hyderabad understand the essence of art. Ongoing for three days, the expo that concluded on Monday, turned out to be quite a hit, drawing plenty of crowds.
The boxes on display were also for sale, ranging between `20,000 and `1,00,000, funds of which will go towards organising next year’s event. City Express spoke to some of the artists to understand their interpretation of the box.
Five in one
Participating artist Akshaya Ananth Singh said, “It feels great to be a part of this art fair as it is first of its kind in the city with an interesting theme. The first thought that came to my mind as soon as I saw the box was to use different styles.” The 36-year-old used sketching, water colours, stencils, glass etching and printing to decorate each side of his box. Along with using different styles, the sides also displayed a different aspect of Hyderabad.
Talking about the theme, the ex-student of SV College of Fine Arts said, “I had chosen to showcase Hyderabadi traditions and customs through depictions of the Bonalu festival, Irani chai stalls, etc. The reason why chose Hyderabadi traditions was to express my happiness towards the formation of Telangana.”
Painting four exterior sides of the box and a panel on the inside, Ananth’s creation had images of Bonalu sketched, an Irani chai stall painted in water colours, the martyrs of Telangana and India in glass etching, the Ramzan festive fever in print and a group of people in stencil.
Organiser-cum-participant, sculptor Shivarama Chary’s box depicts Buddha in meditation. With a miniature Bodhi tree under which a even more miniscule Buddha in penance, the box is carved to also reflect the surface of bark.
“This art fair is one of my dreams come true as it has involved so much of effort to make it happen. Being a sculptor by profession, I wanted to show different textures on the surface of the box to give it a totally new look,” explains the 35-year-old. Using straight, circular and diagonal forms to create different textures, the box replicates quite a few surfaces. “After giving it a natural look, the thought that crossed my mind was about enlightenment of Buddha. And so I added a tree and statue of Buddha to my box,” he explained.
A blend of brown and green hues instantly associate the artist’s box to something earthy and rustic.
Sculpting on Box
For sculptor Rohini Reddy, working with the box turned out to be a challenge as the form was already fixed, but nevertheless enjoyed the process. “The theme was one factor that made me accept the challenge. The sculpting done on the box is my signature style and they are every easy to understand.”
Reddy’s box is very feminist-oriented, exploring various emotions of the woman. From calm to anger to anguish, the box reflects different faces of the woman from different sides of the box.
Explained the 40-year old, “The themes I chose are mostly women-centric and the portrayal is how I myself would like to picturise them. I have painted on the sculpting to give it the box the effect of a painting with a smooth finish.”
When asked about how well she thinks she fared at the challenge in comparison to the others art pieces, Reddy replied, “Every box displayed in this art fair is a unique piece of the artist as they have given the medium new dimensions. This has been first time that I have done something like this and I am quite pleased.”
Part of the faculty of JNTFAU, participant Mallesham’s box looks like a treasure box with a crystal on top. Painted in silver and gold, his depiction seems to be that of luxury and lavishness.
Talking about the fair, he said, “I never expected this art fair to be a great success as the art festivals in Hyderabad usually do not attract much crowd. This being the first, we only included 100 artists but for the second edition we are planning to include the remaining 40 to 50 artists who are also there in the city.”
Pointing at his box, the 43-year-old also explained that his theme was crystals. “I focused on crystals as I wanted the box to look rich so that people relate it with jewellery. I thought it would attract people,” says the artist who is also an alumnus of JNTFAU.
While largely painted in gold and silver paints, the box is studded with diamond-shaped crystal on the top and inside the box. Multi-coloured stones also added to the rich look.
A water coloured dream
Featuring a woman frolicking in what appears to be a dream state, Kishen Durisethi’s box is the perfect trove for keepsakes and trinkets. However, for him, the idea was to show the shell a woman retreats into to escape marital pressures.
“I choose to showcase the pressures involved in the marital relationship. The usage of water colours for this is to bring out the right shades related to the theme.” A freelance painter, the 45-year-old added, “I am extremely happy to be a part of this exhibition as it is a very good platform. I look forward for to it next year as well.”
Mixing deep hues of blue and yellow, the colours perfectly complement each other. The central figure of the woman appears to balancing the varied emotions like aggression, love, sadness and so on.