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The 'Concourse' Exhibition in Srinagar

The 'Concourse' Exhibition in Srinagar

The art exhibition titled as 'Concourse', held at Srinagar between 17th June and 24th June, 2018, was unique in many ways. It was, organized by a voluntary cultural organization, 'Kashmir Art Quest'. Art exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, printmaking and photography are not being held regularly during the last several years as they used to be held during the decades of 1970s and 1980s. Especially, within Jammu and Kashmir state had emerged a cordial brotherhood of artists, comprising Kashmiri Muslim and Kashmiri Hindu (also called Pandits) painters and sculptors since India's Independence (i.e since 1947). It is indeed a happy development that the active community of Kashmiri Muslim artists based in the Kashmir Valley, have been feeling that the Kashmiri Hindu artists who had either settled in Jammu or elsewhere outside the Jammu and Kashmir state should come together along with the former, on one platform, so that art scene in Kashmir can become lively and vigorous once again.

Most of the participating artists of the historic exhibition had prepared art works specially for this occasion, which the Curators of the exhibition called 'Concourse'. However, every artist had the freedom to choose his or her theme and also medium as well as the style of expression. The ages of the participating artist varied between 82 years, the eldest, to 32 years, the youngest. As expected the works range from 'super-realism' to cubism, abstraction, and surrealism and of course 'installation'. In the absence of a large art gallery or designated exhibition space, the Curators had zeroed in for an abandoned silk factory shed which was constructed more than a century ago. The dark interior, (though partially white washed) of the old factory, was quite appropriate space for art works, many of which reflected the current situation of a certain despair among the society, without of course directly pointing any accusing fingers towards anyone in particular.

One of the Curators had quite appropriately fabricated an installation using 'found spare parts' of the silk factory machines. An allegorical element has been added by placing a crow within the constructed space, while the title reads that one crow had flown away. Certain artists who chose photography as their medium, depicted some existing realities with political overtones, such as a sister wailing at the dead body of her brother and a young mother praying for her lost son. On the other hand, the beautiful Kashmir landscape did not escape the attention of some artists who presented deliberately different variations of the scenic beauty in water colours or acrylic paints. Taking inspiration from the characteristic Kashmir house architecture was another novel theme. Among some artists adaptation of various styles of Islamic calligraphy was an obvious choice. Print making medium was also adequately represented. For most of the artists it was the question of aligning oneself to some extent with modernistic language like cubism, abstraction, surrealism and so forth. My own painting represents a falling figure inspired by the Greek myth of Icarus. I have given him my likeness and the geographical region where it is falling suggests Srinagar city with Vitasta river (Jhelum) of the Kashmir Valley. The curators of the exhibition are Veer Munshi, Delhi based Kashmiri Pandit artist and Mustaba Rizi, Srinagar based engineer and chairman of Kashmir Art Quest.

Most of the outstation artists, including this author, feel it a privilege to have been invited to participate in this brotherhood venture and are looking forward to be together again in future.

Key words : The ‘Concourse' Exhibition in Srinagar, Ratan Parimoo, Srinagar

Categories : Painting