Monday, August 5, 2013

A spotlight on the Faculty of Fine Arts

Art patrons not only from India but from around the world visit the Faculty of Fine Arts university campus, searching for a new star at the annual students' exhibition.

Art became a way of life for the people of Vadodara thanks to royal patronage. Besides commissioning portraits from painters like Raja Ravi Varma, the Gaekwads formed a museum to showcase their collection of rare works drawn from different parts of the globe. In 1949, the Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA) was set up as part of Baroda University, which emerged as the nursery of budding talent in Indian art.

The dean in-charge of FFA for last three years, Shailendra K. Kushwaha recently in an interview described Vadodara as 'a laidback city' - one easily accessible; an overnight journey by train from Mumbai and New Delhi, the two prime commercial centers of the contemporary Indian art market takes us to the city.

FFA has earned a deserved reputation of being a liberal, progressive institute, which encourages experimentation. It provides students freedom and space so as to create freely and promotes an exchange of ideas along with a spirit of inquiry. The faculty always has been supportive of innovation and experimental efforts, encouraging usage of new unusual mediums, and a new visual idiom.

Students from across India vie for admission here, seeking an opportunity to learn from expert teachers. The faulty boasts of names like Laxma Goud, Sankho Chaudhuri and Nasreen Mohamedi, among others, over the years. Because of them, FFA has remained ahead of its competitors.

Artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, a former professor of art history & painting at FFA has been quoted as saying in an interview, "The institution was the first in the country to launch full-fledged degree courses. It boasted a unique cosmopolitan nature and belonged to everybody, yet to nobody."

An alumnus of the illustrious college, Rekha Rodwittiya reminisced: "In the late 1970s and then early 1980s, FFA was a space of intense learning, which rigorously inculcated a theoretical as well as art historical framework of visual arts’ teaching. A political consciousness also prevailed to enable students to contextualize personal positions of affiliation, allowing them to define self-representation."

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