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Lively forum for art

Ample space and natural lighting make a visit to The Forum a visual treat. The gallery recently shifted from the congested Gemini Circle to a 4,000 sq ft. premises in Adyar. The re-launch is marked by special art-related activities for children and adults.

PADMANABHA NAGAR, Adyar, has become the latest destination for Chennai's connoisseurs of art, thanks to The Forum moving to swanky new premises in the quiet locality. Spread over 4,000 sq. ft. in three levels, the gallery is undoubtedly a visually stimulating experience.

"The city is expanding southwards. Adyar has now become a happening place... " says Shalini Biswajit of The Forum, when asked about her decision to shift from the teeming Gemini circle, where her gallery was previously located. "Distance is not a dampener for true art lovers. Once you establish a name people are going to come... no matter where."

Right from the vibrant, burnt-yellow façade to the subtle niches on the staircase, The Forum's design reflects Shalini's flair for throwing up visual surprises. "When it came to the interior, I was very focussed. Because, the prime objective was to display works of art. There was no digressing from that." So naturally, the lines are clean and simple and the colours, mostly monochromatic. "The interior has to confer importance to the images and complement them, does it not?" So the artist-cum-interior designer has created an ambience that's respectfully reticent in the presence of artistic merit, such that the eye is sufficiently arrested and drawn to the works on display.

The ongoing maiden show at the gallery features the works of 19 top-notch artists from all over the country. So, instead of cramming the wall with the works, the exhibits are spread over all the three levels of space. The result — elegant halls transformed by walls filled with a casual, yet balanced arrangement of strong, bright images. The spartan halls with plenty of natural daylight flooding them are reflective of the contemporary design idiom — "less means more".

The mini hall on the second floor opens out onto a terrace giving an illusion of expansiveness. The walls in vivid hues perfectly complement the patches of greenery and the two isolated metal sculptures (by Shalini) that overlook the road.

Against the backdrop of such a creatively exciting environment, the art promoter has several value-additions to the re-launched gallery. "The Forum will move beyond showcasing the best of local and national talents. Forum Artlink, a creative art education programme, has been launched for the benefit of art buffs. Open to children and adults, the programme will feature workshops, art classes, slide shows, lectures... and, of course, endless possibilities. It is such art-related activities that keep a gallery alive in between major shows."

That's not all. Leading artists will be invited for interactive sessions, so that "they are able to pass on much more than what their works convey." There are also plans to conduct exclusive workshops on cartoons (Incidentally, Shalini's husband Biswajit, a businessman, is also a cartoonist in his own right, freelancing for Madras Musings). An annual charity show is also part of The Forum's agenda.

An acclaimed painter and sculptor (the gallery houses her studio), Shalini completed her Masters in Fine Arts from Stella Maris College before moving to New York for a course in interiors. Being "sensitive to the needs of an artist", she launched The Forum in 1997 "to break barriers between the artist and the viewer. The Forum means a platform... to express, deliver and communicate."

And that's what Shalini hopes to do artistically!

For those who wish to contact The Forum, the address is 57, 5th Street Padmanabha Nagar, Adyar, ph: 7115596.

T.KRITHIKA REDDY

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