Saturday, February 21, 2009

Artist Gayatri and writer M. K. Harikumar

This growing business of art

Art is on the shelves of cyberspace and the city hosts its first online auction of paintings


FINAL BID Artist Gayatri and writer M. K. Harikumar, right, at the online art auction, The Limits of the Sky

Sky is the limit for the vibrant artscape in the State. And reaching for the sky are the artists of Kerala experimenting cleverly with styles, colours, ideas, thoughts and content. The mood is upbeat and so is the manner.

The Limits of the Sky, the first exhibition-and online auction of paintings held in the city, sponsored by project Aaranyakam, in association with Taj Malabar, was new in conduct, and content. The latter, because the 10 works on sale were a series of a painting by artist Gayatri who drew inspiration from M. K. Harikumar's critique, Navadwaitham Vijayante Novalukaliloode.

Navadwaitham is Harikumar's analysis of O. V. Vijayan's collection of works. Literature and art thus came together in a unique expression that found six bidders contesting for a price befitting the works. Art Lovers, Dubai, concluded the deal at Rs. 5, 65,000.

With the hammer-and-cry auctions becoming a thing of the past and online transactions and auctions enabling a worldwide audience, art too is on the shelves in cyberspace.

Art, that by its very visual virtue needs to be seen, searched, seeped in, is now sold over telephone calls, emails, and of course well-designed, informative and user-friendly websites. And it's a thriving business.

Surprisingly called, `The Limits of the Sky', the writer and the artist combine have used the sky as a boundless creative canvas. In their minds the sky with the clouds, birds, stars, lightning, leaves, kites, butterflies, blue, green, purple, red, yellow, sunset, sunrise, rain, hail and the cosmic mysteries is a symbol of a psychic journey.


A psychic journey interpreted through the colourful skycapes. So, the evening sky is spectacular with its flaming red and orange hues, the dark single leaf dropping to the earth, a frame that will have you caught in its impact. How small is mankind to this wondrous movement of nature, how small and how helpless. The lightning moment is a moment of magnitude. The cracking sky, the angry clouds instil a sense of fear.

Moving on, the morning sky is full of hope and cheer. White clouds rolling lazily across plain blue sky calms just as it spreads joy. The rainy, wet monsoon sky is telling. And so the skyscapes lead you through beautiful scenes, shifting from fear to hope, from cheer to calmness: a cathartic experience.

Art that lifts, , that offers so much to so many becomes a trading commodity in an auction even more so than in a plain sale of art. Bidders vie cleverly and the contest is a cold business deal.

Art for business is mainly what an art auction is about. And when art is sold in lots as it was done here it is aimed not at amateur art lovers but at very serious art collectors, galleries and museums. "We had six bidders, three from Mumbai, two from Bangalore and one from Dubai," said Gayatri, explaining that the reserve price for a work was Rs.20, 000.

Having moved away from his pet preoccupation of painting social and political discrepancies, Gaytri here is in a romantic mood: A mood generated by Harikumar's `brand of `advaita', as different from Sankaracharya's : unity in diversity, the metaphysical behind the obvious.

Displayed on easels and placed along the classy corridors of the Taj Malabar hotel, to be perused by visitors, the exhibition was different in setting too. Acrylic on canvas was the medium and the sky being the subject, the canvas expanse was slapped with bold, broad strokes. In this expanse were little cues that held the sky together, like the little window from which a pair of curious eyes peeped happily.

And as debate rages among the purists in art about the ingenuity of styles, ideas, techniques, good and bad, this online art auction and this experiment of a writer and an artist coming together to express jointly a feeling, a thought, art moves on to a newer and more colourful canvas.


The Hindu:

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