A young graduate from MS University in Baroda back then, artist Veer Munshi recalls how in the 1980s he would often sit with his easel in his Anantnag home to paint in the tranquil surroundings. He would have never have imagined being forced to flee from home, as he had to in 1990. Three years later, the home was burned down but its memories have influenced Munshi’s work since.
Over the last few months discussions regarding home have become even more frequent for him as Munshi has been interacting with Kashmiri artists based across the world to put together their work in the exhibition “Concurse”. Being held at the historic Silk Factory in Srinagar the showcase, curated by Munshi, brings together 60 Kashmiri artists from the valley and the diaspora. If artist Syed Mujtaba Rizvi paints the words “Memory”, “Homeland” and “Identity” against a white backdrop, in Munshi’s installation a wooden boat is suspended upside down with metal bars, and Khytul Abyad sketches a map of Srinagar with bottles of spring water from Anantnag placed before on a table. Found objects from the factory, primarily machine parts, form another installation by Munshi.
“This project is not just historically significant due to its creative and cultural value but also as it aims to promote the idea of peace, harmony, and togetherness through the medium of art,” says Rizvi, founder of Kashmir Art Quest, an international contemporary arts foundation based in Kashmir that has organised the exhibition. He points out how for decades no major exhibition has been held in the Valley. The first time a significant exhibition of modern art was held in Srinagar was in June 1948, exactly 70 years ago. Featuring works by veterans, such as Som Nath Bhat, Triloke Koul, Syed Haider Raza and PN Kachru, the exhibition, he says, “combined propaganda and art”. While artists from across India continued to meet at Riviera, a modest restaurant on the bund in Srinagar, the famous Nedous hotel also hosted shows of artists such as Triloke Koul and Ratan Parimoo. In 1974, GR Santosh held a solo at the Teacher’s Training College. “Concourse evaluates the present state of Kashmiri contemporary art to determine the challenges and successes faced by Kashmiri artists and those involved in art-making in a Kashmiri context, and to examine the current status of the Kashmiri contemporary art community. Through this exhibition, multiple streams of dialogue will be initiated to establish a greater foundation for established and emerging artists, creating pathways of discussion with curators, critics, and panelists from within Kashmir and abroad,” says Rizvi.
The exhibition in on till June 24.