For most artists, if they are to think and create happily, two conditions are of greatest importance — space and support. This is what Delhi-based designer Deepika Govind and her husband, founder of Justa Hotels and Resorts, Ashish Vohra had in mind when they set up the art residency Chitrashaala. Inspired by the art school that once flourished in the Rajput state of Bundi — the murals can still be seen on the walls of Chitrashaala (hall of paintings) at Taragarh fort — the residency is located not too far from the erstwhile kingdom in the Lake Nahargarh Palace hotel. It returns for a fourth edition this year. It began on September 11 and continues till 16.
The seed for Chitrashaala was planted when Vohra was setting up his hotels and looking for art to hang on the walls of his properties. Govind recalls that most of the art they bought initially turned out to be worth a fraction of what was paid for them. “That was when we decided that whatever we put up on the walls will be original,” she says. As they travelled across the country looking for good, original work, the couple realised that hosting artists in a residency might help.
A goal of the Chitrashaala residency is to connect artists from around the world and across the age spectrum. In 2016, for example, Chitrashaala was organised with Narrative Movements, an international group based in Santiniketan, with artists from Germany, Russia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Hungary.
This year, the event is curated by art critic Anirudh Chari and is supported by Holding Hands, a group of practising artists formed in July 2016, and sees the participation of Asis Kumar Sanyal, Katayun Saklat and Avijit Mukherjee. “We eventually want to get to a point where we’ll have not just visual artists, but also more performance artists to be part of the residency,” says Govind.