Anshuman Kar is a fun loving, non-vocal 23-year-old living with autism, a lifelong complex condition that impairs intellect, sociability and the ability to communicate. But these challenges have never stood in the way of his passion—painting. Using his fingers and thick brushes with bold acrylic colours on paper and canvas, he creates geometric patterns combined with texture, space and form. And so impressed was noted artist Bose Krishnamachari with the youngster’s vibrant work that he immediately snapped up his painting at The Art Sanctuary’s ongoing online auction.
Kar is one of the more than 100 intellectually challenged young adults across India that have been given a unique platform to showcase their artistic talents by this Bengalurubased organisation. While the first edition of the Exhibition of Creative and Performing Arts (e-CAPA) was held in a Delhi art gallery last year, this year it is being hosted through 3D digital domain due to Covid restrictions. Interested buyers can log onto the visual art gallery and pick their pieces (www.theartsanctuary.in/buy/).
From abstracts to flora and fauna and everything in between, the exhibition showcases a wide gamut of invigorating artistic talent. Like, for instance, 19-year-old Prithvi Ramkumar from Chennai, who loves to paint flowers. From a bunch in a vase to those growing in the fields to even a single bloom, he loves painting their various forms and shapes. And while he may be limited in verbal communication, he also pens poetry and writes stories about his subjects.
Another young talent is Nishant Sriram, who has been diagnosed with autism and apraxia, and also has motor planning issues which make it difficult for him to learn new movement-based skills. He loved playing with paints and crayons from a young age but found it difficult to colour within the lines or hold a crayon for long.
For him, art was just a tactile and sensory experience of smelling the crayons and paint, touching the medium and then exploring the visual effects. For many years he filled full charts and sheets with one single colour, What kept him going, however, was his keen interest in the activity.
Around age 16, his parents helped him get started with MS Paint and Doodle Buddy on iPad. Technology provided a bridge for him where he could create some form inspite of his motor issues. One of the highlights was winning the logo Competition for the Velvi ART for Autism Festival 2013.
Over the past almost five years, he has emerged as a striking creative artist. Nishat usually creates a background with a couple of colours and fills the paper with strong strokes. Then, he uses sketch pens, stencils, earbuds, leaves, fruits and brushes to create stunning visual effects.
Another such artist, Hrishikesh, was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD at the tender age of two. His interest in painting started from childhood by sketching Indian deities from photographs in his early days. Now, he paints live objects from his surroundings in deep and vibrant hues. He has honed his skills to such an extent over the years that he is now pursuing a diploma in Fine Arts.
As The Art Sanctuary’s founder-trustee, Shalini Saran Gupta, the mother of a special needs child herself, explains: “We are determined to keep doing this till the mainstream art world sits up and takes notice and includes special needs young adults without any bias and prejudice on equal footing.”
Since the one year of its inception in 2019, besides painting workshops, The Art Sanctuary has also organised skill building programmes such as a smartphone filmmaking workshop with FTII, Pune, as well as online workshops in photography, dance and storytelling.