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Creative context

A unique artist-residency at Daira - Centre for Art and Culture, provides a peek into the lives and works of seven city-based artists


ART IS not about expression in a vacuum, but an expression more of one's relation to one's context. The context(s), in which the art is produced, is as important as the artist that created it. The artist conveys her/his dialogue with her/his context in the work, and leaves the rest to the viewer. What the viewer makes of it again, is based on the subjective experience of the viewer.

With numerous galleries now exhibiting works of art in Hyderabad and new ones opening almost every season, Daira - Centre for Art and Culture, seems to convey a different message through the event called, `A Walk Through Art'. The event - on since November 16, aims to differ from the workshops and artist camps held elsewhere, in that it attempts to recreate the context of the artists at work and invites - as the card reads - people to "stroll through the works, studios and lives of seven artistes."

A stroll through lives it may not be (and cannot possibly claim to be so), but it is definitely a stroll through the recreated `private' spaces (recreated to be as close to the actual spaces as possible) of the Hyderabad-based artists - A.M. Murali, Archana Sonti, L.N.V. Srinivas, Rajeswara Rao, Sajid Bin Amar, Varunika Saraf and Vera de Jong (a Canadian artist based here).

Barring the work of the three women artistes, the Hyderabad audience is well aware of the works of the male artists participating in this unique artist-residency. L.N.V. Srinivas says, "It has been a different experience altogether. We do participate in workshops and camps, but in this there is a consistent dialogue with each other as an artist - a way to know each other better, and to see how our work evolves. It is more interactive here - artistes among themselves and artist with the audience."

Each artist has tried to recreate their `working conditions/contexts' at Daira, complete with a radio, or a tape recorder playing songs while they paint and so on. Interestingly, and somewhat intriguingly, it is the women artists - especially Archana and Varunika - who have re-created their intimate workspaces with utmost importance to details. Archana's space is filled with personal papers, cards, notes to herself (that she would place on the wall of her studio), and a cassette player constantly playing a range of classical music as she works.

Varunika's works do not qualify for an exhibition of this kind - there are students with much better works and greater promise. But there is something touching and child-like in the way she has transplanted her studio space, replete with the window by her table, the posters, the painting of a dog that probably lies at her feet as she paints, the wall with numerous things that she might need, the tiny cushions, and so on. But what is lacking in her work is art. The context of her art is obviously a protected, well-provided for space, good enough for someone to hone their hobby, or that's how her corner `speaks'. However, her work in papier-mache of a woman seated on a chair is interesting.

Sajid, L.N.V. Srinnivas and Rajeswara Rao are not new here. There are some of the old objects that line their spaces, like the functional radio in Sajid's space and L.N.V.'s bookshelf.

Murali's cloth screen revealing the process of the making of his film, Understanding Universe and Me: the Big Bang shows numerous microcosms lending themselves to his act of creation, and worlds within worlds as represented in each movement. Photographer Kalpana who will share her work on December 14 is documenting the present event on a handy cam.

Besides art, there have been a couple of shows on weekends - theatre, music and films. On December 7, the films - Frida (the Salma Hayek starrer by Julie Taymor), Surviving Picasso (Ivory Merchant), and Pollock (Ed Harris) were screened.

All the films have the artist as their central point and speak of their lives, their contexts, in keeping with the basic theme of a `Walk of Art', which is open for public till December 16.

R. UMA MAHESHWARI

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