In spite of imperfect display spaces and weak demand,Pune has grown to become exhibition-friendly for sculptors
Artist Manoj Sharma belongs to Jamshedpur,but has been settled in Pune since the past eight years. During this time ,he has witnessed the gradual growth of art galleries in the city. When he had initially relocated,he had no place to display his artwork. A ceramic potter,Sharma sold most of his work with the help of word-of-mouth publicity. Today,he feels the chances of getting display space for his work has grown considerably. Two months back,Sharma was one of the participating sculptors in a group show called ‘Medley in Ceramics -II’,organised by the Renaissance Art Gallery in Baner. It attempted to showcase sculptors and the new media that they have been putting to use.
In the past one year,group art shows in the city have featured a remarkable number of sculptors. Delicate ceramic pieces,intricately detailed installation art,bronze works and huge pottery-based sculptures have filled exhibition catalogues regularly. At the Renaissance Art Gallery,the last edition of the ‘Medley in Ceramics’ show had a number of sculptors participating. “I had started this exhibition to just let these artists get a full-fledged display space. The display constraints and the cost incurred for sculptors is a major challenge and I wanted the art form to get good exposure,” explains Varsha Munot,curator of the gallery. The first edition had seen only two potters from the city participate. The number grew to eight for this year’s show. In fact,Munot has her gallery space planned in such a manner that sculptors can easily display their works.
For a city whose art scene has been more or less restricted to two dimensional canvasses,this is a fresh perspective. “There is definitely a change in the kind of response I get for my work now,” says Veena Chandran,who considers pottery her passion. Chandran had first exhibited her work in the year 2009 at a gallery in Boat Club. “The visitors now consider this as pieces of art and not just a pot or a pan. Other cities like Delhi and Mumbai were always very open to sculpting,but for Pune this is a good time to be a potter.”
At Art2Day gallery,curator and manager Priyamvada Pawar is currently in preparation of the next exhibition. She recognises the infrastructural challenges that installation art entails. “We get sculptors from all over the country. It’s quite a recent event. We have tried to change our gallery in such a way that they get the best possible way to showcase their work. But it’s the logistics that is a tall order. Sometimes the rent to get the art work in the city crosses Rs 20,000. The artists need to balance this with the cost of selling their art.”
An artist needs to be better prepared; he needs to know how to pack his artwork,find the correct mode of transport and a congenial display venue. City sculptors often face the issue of galleries that are designed the improper way. “Sometimes they don’t have pedestals,or if they do,they are too dirty. But,at least there is this recognition that infrastructure needs to be tailor-made for three-dimensional work too,” says Sharma.
Artist Ruby Jhunjunwala feels that in the last ten years,a gradual shift in focus has emerged. “But the market is too dull even now. The most difficult part is to answer the question why so expensive? I have been producing sculptures since the year 1972. I would still call the shift in focus as a very nascent one.” Positive signs also emerge from the way artists have come together to produce art collaborations. “We are all connected now. We discuss issues and try to help each other out. That itself is helping us. Galleries have thrown open their doors to us and though at a snail’s pace,we are slowly getting business,” Jhunjunwala adds.