The energy is palpable, as 10 young artists from across Punjab soak in the moment, having received Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi’s prestigious annual scholarships, recognition of their talent and their engagement with art. The budding artists, who will receive a scholarship amount of Rs 1, 20,000 each, have been selected after interviews by internationally renowned artists Bose Krishnamachari, Sudarshan Shetty and G R Iranna, who looked at the original artworks of the young artists and studied their artistic, intellectual and craftsmanship skills.
The scholarships, says Diwan Manna, President of the Akademi, are aimed at providing talented artists a platform to promote research and quest for individual signature in their respective fields. The scholarships were open for disciplines of drawing, graphics/ printmaking, painting, sculpture, multi-media, photography and installation. For the artists, the scholarships are a chance to connect with the larger society, as some of them share the intent of their art and how they hope it will talk of larger issues.
A feminine form
It is with wood and bronze that sculptor Deepak Kumar connects the dots, as he initiates conversations about the problems that plague his world, a small village named Abul Khurana in Punjab. The condition of women, who have no voice, and struggle against all odds to build a life for themselves and their family, is one of the core subjects of his work. “Through my work, I want to tell the world the story of these women, who even in today’s age and time have to go through violence, degradation and face inequality. I have seen this closely in my own life and the purpose of my art is to talk of these universal issues, with wood and bronze helping me to create a new vocabulary. I also work on the themes of politics and war, and how the common man is affected by this constant strife,” says Kumar, a fine arts graduate from Kurukshetra University, who also teaches sculpture and painting to underprivileged children.
A human touch
For Simarjeet Singh, art is a medium to express his pain and anguish, as the young sculptor, a pass-out from the Government College of Art, Chandigarh, works with clay and stone to create awareness about the drug problem that is destroying the youth of Punjab. He says, “The work that won me this scholarship was a result of my personal experience, as I helped my brother to give up drugs and begin a new life. The struggle that I went through, to motivate him to give life another chance, shaped many aspects of my work, as I travel to the villages of Punjab to understand this problem and draw attention to it through my sculptures.” The young artist hopes to use the scholarship to create a body of work on the issue that will combine sculpture, text, video and photographs to reach to a wider audience. Gurjeet Singh uses textiles, installations, sculpture and painting to talk of personal history, as well as social issues. “We, as artists, must have no boundaries and my work draws attention to the drug problem rampant in Punjab, and also how the education system needs to be strengthened in the state. Through research and art, I hope I can bring about change,” he says.