Come winter and Ahmedabad comes alive with myriad cultural activities. Interestingly, come sun or rain, the city is quite abuzz with art fairs and exhibitions, film festivals, and more. Author and artist Esther David says, “Till the ’80s, Ahmedabad had a very small cultural scene limited to old-timers and a few families, but today, there is a new Ahmedabad, along with new arrivals to the city, who have made it their home. These groups are often conditioned to the arts, folk arts, crafts, and fashion. Additionally, women are at the forefront of many cultural activities, as they travel and collect information. Often, they are students of our well-known design or management educational institutes, have studied abroad, or have returned to live in the city, giving form to their knowledge. They are well-dressed, professional, articulate, and clear about their aims for future events. This new vision and desire to give a new platform to the arts has overtaken the cultural fabric of the city and created a magnificent tapestry, which shows the path towards a rich cultural heritage for future generations. Ahmedabad has become a ‘Sanskar Nagari’ of sorts; earlier, Vadodara was known as the center of art and culture in the state. Ahmedabadis have also become globe-trotters, affecting the city’s cultural scene positively.”
How has this turned out for stakeholders?
David replies, “It is very helpful to artists of all disciplines as they are in demand and can make a living as freelancers. Earlier it was impossible to get an audience for an exhibition or event, to even invite a corporate buyer, or to convince someone to sponsor an art event. But today, at some institutes, studios are available for artists or there is space for budding poets and young writers to exchange notes about their latest work. A number of galleries and auditoriums have emerged in the city, where large audiences spend pleasant evenings discovering new idioms of artistic expression. And most are paid shows; earlier, people asked each other for free passes!”
With the opportunities for artists to reach out to a greater audience, many of whom might not be fully conditioned to the arts, David feels, “Over-exposure can give way to mediocrity, which is why art pieces should be chosen with care and full understanding of the subjects projected for audiences.” She adds, “In the desire to usher in a new wave in art and culture, often there is a confusion and mix-up of genres for the discerning viewer. As such, it is important for artists and curators to be open to critical appreciation or discussion if a knowledgeable person points out some aspects about the creative process and the final creation. Yes, finding a market is definitely important, but so is the creative language of the artist, so that a particular work of art survives time.”
(This article appeared in Femina Gujarat for their Anniversary Issue – Big Story- April 2019)