On the 10th of December, Aakriti Art Gallery organized an interactive session about the attitude of viewership with regard to contemporary art displayed in various places. The agenda of the discussion was the lack of interest among the common mass with regard to visiting different exhibitions that happen all over the city (and India also), and the possible measures or programmes which may be implemented to help for their active participation. Despite arranging a number of exhibitions, the gallery owners have noticed that there has been no active interest among the viewers especially the commoners A few reasons were searched for, which were debated and discussed by gallery owners Vikram Bachhawat, Rakesh Sahni, Abhijit lath, Sudipta Sen and, artists such as Jogen Chowdhury, Aditya Basak, Paula Sengupta, Abhijit Gupta, Bimal Kundu, Rajesh Deb, Ritendra Roy, Samindranath Majumder and others. Is it the kind of art produced/lack of consciousness among viewers due to inadequate information or dearth of visual history education?
Aditya Basak was of the opinion that colonial system of education, which remained unchanged in India after British rule, has crippled the common peoples’ sensibility about art. He added that there must be proper reasons contributing to the increase in footfalls in galleries. The reasons may be, personal invites, a magnetic show which attracts many viewerships. Exhibitions must cater to the visitor’s expectation in order to attract more admirers.
Paula Sengupta differed, saying, that every form of fine art as a dedicated audience, which varies from one show to the other. A gallery must inculcate a focus in its shows in order to cultivate a dedicated viewership. She also reiterated that galleries and artists themselves should explore alternative spaces and the ways of exhibiting art and their possible interactive mode.
The participants also suggested, the presence of a museum solely dedicated to art would probably increase the interface between the art, the artist and the common viewership. Interactive sessions could also help in bridging such a gap.
Again, the lack of sensibility was found to be rooted due to the absence of art history in the compulsory curriculum in schools. The discussion suggested that the schools should plant the interest of fine art among pupils by occasional visit to galleries and practice art as not an extra-curricular discipline but as an essential part of the syllabus. Galleries should also extend their help in such a procedure. Ritendra Roy emphasized this issue based upon his own personal association of getting acclimatized to different forms of art through his experience of a heterogenous and systematic education, the dividends of which he is reaping now as a practicing artist.
Rajesh Deb was in fact a little critical of the mode of imparting history lessons in classes and their impact. He wished how these could be better managed and made thought-provoking by not spoon-feeding the pupil but by necessary exposure to the objects of art making and their creations. Paula Sengupta agreed to this notion and hoped that things can be made more conducive.
Jogen Chowdhury was of the opinion that the world of fine art does not get equal publicity as other forms of entertainment like cinema, theatre etc. Proper publicity could definitely improve the footfalls in galleries .
Abhijit Gupta spoke about the need and attitude of art with respect to the changing times. It has to keep in mind the contemporary activities and the social situation and the expressions of the people in general. He said that the oeuvre of fine arts has never been for the common people. Artists have to be responsible in attracting the viewers and change with the spirit of time.
Though the depressing situation of the art market was seen as a drawback for the malaise afflicting the gathering and interactive participation, but, it was agreed that it could not be held as the sole reason for affecting the growth of interest arising within an individual or the society in general. Art production and its cultivation of interest have to borne out of a love arising out of viewing different works of art. Proper information and publicity both by the private/ corporate and government sectors has to be undertaken to connect the initiatives undertaken by the artists and their associates.