Books and Art

There is a new India emerging. I noticed the change when I came back 20 months ago. There are now opportunities that didn’t exist 15 or even 10 years ago. For this reason, I love this time of year. It starts with the Jaipur Lit Fest, now in its 10th year. Invariably excellent speakers, interesting topics, a vast array of books to discover from authors old and new. But more than that, what strikes me is the excitement of the young crowd (predominantly Indian) not just in support of, but in awe of the authors, many of them the inspiration of what they desire to be, and now see that they have the opportunity to do so. #ZeeJLF2017

This is followed by the Indian Art Fair, (2-5 Feb) this year in its 9th year and now really starting to gain momentum and draw the crowds. It features modern and contemporary art as well as some famous classics from private collections. Last year also had art to support NGOs and other positive causes for change. It was fun, creative, inventive and again, showcasing more opportunities to the new generations.

Then there are the spin off shows, other lit fest emerging in less well known destinations, Kumaon, Lucknow and Indore, to name but 3. Street art is springing up all over cities, this is now a vibrant scene in Delhi and Mumbai but also emerging other destinations, my most recent find, in Dungarpur.

Then there are the artist in residence programs where artists of all genres, film, textile, fashion, pop, sculptors, the list goes on, visit remote villages, stay for a few weeks and produce art inspired by the region and the people they meet. I went to the finale of one of these last year. Thirteen artists had spent a month in a remote village in Himachal. I don’t pretend to know much about art, some I appreciate and some I don’t, but it was the interactions which took place between the locals and the artists which fascinated me. Yes, the villagers learnt from the artists, but this ended up being more than a two way street, with artists, mainly from conurbations, learning much from the village life style and skills of the local population.

This year, one of these is taking place in Puri, Odisha (Orissa for the older ones among us) from 14-27 Feb. A two week program, already well researched by Puneet Kaushik and Rema Kumar, and co curated by pop artist, Ketna Patel who have been exploring the local arts and crafts of the region. It promises to be packed with creativity and knowing this crowd, it should be great fun too. Bob along!

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