Art scene in Hyderabad is reduced to a Page 3 event
Dr Avani Rao Gandra, an artist, photographer and founder of ICONART gallery, was selected for Art Think South Asia (ATSA), a programme in Arts Management and Cultural Policy aimed at developing skills, knowledge, network and experience of cultural practitioners in South Asia.
The 1st Hyderabadi in ATSA
Dr Avani Rao Gandra, an artist, photographer and founder of ICONART gallery, was selected for Art Think South Asia (ATSA), a programme in Arts Management and Cultural Policy aimed at developing skills, knowledge, network and experience of cultural practitioners in South Asia. She was the first person from Hyderabad to be selected for the prestigious scholarship. Fresh after a 15-day intensive training in art management, she is preparing for one month internship in the UK. She speaks to TP Venu about the art scene in Hyderabad, what the scholarship means to her and her journey in the field of art. She feels that the city is missing out on the symbiotic relationship between a serious art practitioner and the general art enthusiast
How has the ATSA programme helped you?
I have always been passionate about ideas. But the 15-day programme opened up new perspectives. Being intuitive with ideas and being professional with the ideas are two different things. The programme has taught me how to sustain an idea. Being in the world of art is a creative process and artists bubble with ideas all the time. The challenge is to sustain the idea and take it to people, to engage with communities and the society at large.
The art scene in Hyderabad is still immature. What do you have to say?
What is missing in the city is a symbiotic relationship between a serious art practitioner and the general art enthusiast. Sadly, the art scene in Hyderabad is reduced to a Page 3 event. What you have is an ‘Art Party’. Branding and publicity are fine but they should only be a means and not an end. The world of art can be cruel. There are no shortcuts. Patience, honesty, ingenuity and sacrifice are a part and parcel of an artist’s life. Senior masters immersed themselves for years and developed a style of their own. There is an explosion of information but the expression has to be developed by the artist himself.
Talking about your own art, texture seems to be such an important part in your paintings. Any particular significance behind it?
The aesthetic element in the village has a lot to do and all the childhood memories of running around in the fields, climbing hills, playing amidst blades of grass and getting immersed in mud has had an influence on me. The flower of a vegetable plant is more aesthetic than a well designed landscape park. I like texture; my contact with nature has had a huge impact and my mother had a flair for painting, embroidery and anything artistic. Water, mud and the organic feel is reflected in my works.
You have become more philosophical and do more of abstracts these days. Why so?
It is a natural progression. I have indeed become more philosophical and look inwards for deeper meanings. The realistic work is more representational. It is fine to build a story but for emotional expression, abstract is the way. This happened intuitively and that is the beauty of art. If you know what you are doing, where is the mystery? Where is the discovery? Art is more of an intuitive development.
Recently you said that art has to go out into public spaces. Is there a particular cause?
Art has a great capacity to create public awareness and open spaces have a different energy. The gallery has its own charm but even today people feel it is an elitist place to visit. Art can no longer be segregated. It has to merge with theatre, street theatre, poetry, photography and other forms of creative expression. We are in the process of creating a virtual group ‘Art For Change’ which would comprise artists from all over the country who would network and bring in their ideas to create awareness on social issues. We are also planning for shows in public spaces and cultural centres rather than a gallery. The first initiative would be on ‘Save the Girl Child’ and ‘Female Infanticide’.
What is your agenda for the one-month internship in UK?
I have plans to connect, learn and become adept at art management, to get involved in and observe production and conception of art programmes, to understand the differing processes of art -- new media and art in public spaces, to build bridges between Indian art talent and other platforms of the world, create space for collaborations and understand the process of exchange of artists and art activities, to enhance levels of innovation and experiment in creating more spaces for art activity and enhance the levels of innovation. The goal is to promote eight upcoming artists who have the potential to make it on the world stage.