In a highly informative and insightful session, Sharan Apparao, Menaka Kumari-Shah and Brian Brown mulled over the beauty and joy of collecting art in current context. Dr. Alka Pande threw light on the sensual side of art through the ages to the contemporary times in a seminar, ‘The aesthetics of the erotic’. Anjolie Ela Menon and Satish Maneshinde also formed part of am interesting debate on the intriguing aesthetics of the erotic in Indian art tradition from historical and legal perspective.
Kirsty Ogg, the co-curator of London's Whitechapel Gallery, also discussed Indian art from a global perspective. She stated: “Conceptually, you can see a piece of art as a combination of form and content. The forms or modes of expression remain more or less the same. There are two sides to the Indian art scene - in terms of the (universal) form of the work, and the specific context, which has a unique Indian texture.”
She added: “Art, to me, is a very powerful, transformative medium that can alter one’s way of thinking about the life and the realities. Art is a process, an expression, a thought coupled with skill and power of execution. Educating people on various facets of art is very important. This cannot happen overnight. It takes years to ‘democratize’ art, but a start has to be made somewhere.”
Explaining the importance of developing a culture conducive to collecting, art scholar Judith Greer pointed to the practice in the US wherein focused community groups actively support local museums, and even major museums are supported by individuals who often donate massive collections to them.
“In contrast, the collaborative spirit is not quite there in India. Sustained patronage is important to create conditions conducive for an artist to make good work of art,” she concluded. All in all, AEI panelists provided nuggets of wisdom, and acquainted audiences with the beauty, joy and worth of collecting art.