Places to visit in Pondicherry
New Delhi : Early this year in March, thirty-two artistes from nine countries came together at the serene Dune Eco Beach resort in Puducherry for a South Asian Artists Camp organized by Seher & ICCR. The artworks that were produced during this interaction between highly charged, creative minds from varied backgrounds, styles and schools of thought are now up in the capital for an exhibition titled ‘Puducherry Blue’ at Hotel Lalit, Barakhamba Lane, New Delhi on May 8, 2010. The exhibition begins with Ganesh Vandana and traditional hymns by ASIMA (male choir from Kerala), followed by Dr. Karan Singh, President, ICCR, releasing the catalogue of the exhibition.
The participating artists are Mehreen Zuberi (Pakistan), Amber Hammad (Pakistan), Latifa Meeran (Afghanistan), Enayatullah Niazi (Afghanistan), Chandraguptha Thenuwara (Sri Lanka), Sanjeewa Kumara (Sri Lanka), Tshewang Tenzin (Bhutan), Karma Zangmo (Bhutan), Erina Tamrakar (Nepal), Birendra Pratap Singh (Nepal), Alokesh Gosh (Bangladesh), Md. Rafiqun Nabi (Bangladesh), Mariyam Omar (Maldives), Kyaw Shein (Myanmar), John Tun Sein (Myanmar), Ajay Rajgarhia (Delhi), Kota Neelima (Delhi), Mona Rai (Delhi), Masooma (Delhi), Sumedh Rajendran (Delhi), Amitava Das (Delhi), Niladri Paul (Delhi), Farhad Hussain (Delhi), Prabhakar Kolte (Mumbai), Vanita Gupta (Mumbai), Vilas Shinde (Mumbai), Jin Shook Shinde (Mumbai), Debnath Basu (Kolkata), R. Bala (Chennai), Parvathi Nayar (Chennai), Zakir Hussain (Kerala) and V. Ramesh (Hyderabad).
According to Sanjeev Bhargava, founder SEHER and curator of the exhibition : “This exhibition is unique as these 32 artists were not merely provided a space to paint but to interact and participate in each other’s creative process. Puducherry was selected for its soothing atmosphere and charm, but no less for its ubiquitous, unique blue colour ever present in its sapphire skies and azure waters of the Bay of Bengal – an experience that artistes from landlocked Afghanistan and Bhutan might never have witnessed or experienced and that, perhaps, reflected in their work. Thus, was born Puducherry Blue.”
Says V Ramesh, an artist from Vishakhapatnam: “In the beginning it was like children entering a new class – hesitant, nervous and almost wary of each other. But from the third day of the camp, almost all had dropped guard – the bonhomie and warmth towards each other was palpable as friendships and familiarity grew. It is this process of familiarisation and getting closer at the people-to-people level that is so invaluable and indispensable to facilitate proximity between our nations.”
Says Mehreen Zuberi from Pakistan: “I was never a good student but always managed to pass because I made beautiful charts. The blue of the sea and the walls of my room, coupled with the sound of the ocean was quite novel and inspiring.” She was encouraged by her businessman father and works mostly as a miniature painter, but her images and approach are contemporary, and often, sexual in nature. However at the camp, she chose to create non-sexual and non-political images.
While Karma Zangmo from Bhutan created traditional tankha work so predominant in her country’s cultural milieu, Sanjeewa Kumar has depicted the elephant, an iconographic image of his country Sri Lanka, with six legs and even wings, absorbing new experiences and acquiring a new identity, while floating in a new space. “These are significant times in my country now, as we struggle to dissolve our differences to remain together,” he explains.
According to Prabhakar Kolte (Mumbai), “It was like nine friends coming together to exchange their artistic accomplishment and the experience that creates it and is consequent to it. It was an opportunity to revitalise one’s own spirit of amity among known and unknown contemporaries who touch the core of life with their brush. Nine hands but one mind and a throbbing heart pumped but one colour – Blue, the Puducherry Blue.”