The reason why most of the Indian population feels disconnected to art is probably because its reach is limited to the confines of elite auction houses and extravagant price tags.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that the middle-class audience does not appreciate or collect art, but the monetary range of most artworks often deters them from venturing into the domain of art.
Thankfully, this is all set to change thanks intervention of Centre of International Modern Art or CIMA, who aim to move art out of elite circles and make it affordable enough for the common man to purchase.
An indispensable facet of Kolkata’s art culture for over a decade now, the CIMA Art Mela is one of India’s largest annual fairs that curates works of seasoned and promising artists and features these at pocket-friendly price tags, ranging between ₹3,000 and ₹75,000.
Marking its tenth anniversary, the Mela is now heading towards the national capital and will showcase more than 1,600 works of over 80 artists from across the country.
While many of the artworks in the mela are believed to highlight the collaborative culture of affordable art prevalent in Shantiniketan, the iconic town in West Bengal, the event will also showcase works of veteran Indian artists including Thotta Tharani, Sandeep Suneriya and Prasanta Sahu.
The organisation aims to not just revitalise art collection among the middle-class, but also cut class barriers.
“In the ’90s, as art prices went up, the middle class was squeezed out. So, with CIMA’s panel of curators including Lalit Kala Akademi fellows, we have commissioned works from a diverse group of Indian artists, some of whom are recipients of our biennial arts awards or artists we have featured in our gallery. There is no other project of this nature in the country—of this size and geographical breadth. Our curators guarantee each piece of art as an authentic work, and this makes many first-time buyers comfortable,” said Rakhi Sarkar, who is the chief curator and director of CIMA, to The Hindu.
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Addressing the growing concern of valuable artworks being sold for less how much they are worth, Sarkar also mentioned that their organisation was not creating a society of collectors because art education is not a priority.
“At CIMA, we encourage young people to spend their money on good art, and we provide flexible payment options like instalments so that we can encourage a culture of art collection,” she added.
With a reported 3,000 visitors who purchased more than 70 percent of the work last year, the art fair was quite successful in Kolkata. The Delhi edition will be hosted between April 26-30 at the India Habitat Centre, and if the mela finds as much success as it has been enjoying all these years in the City of Joy, CIMA is keen on taking the initiative to cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai subsequently.
So people in Delhi, remember to save the dates and do your best to support the artists in India and as a bonus, you can spruce up your home or workspaces with amazing artworks at affordable prices!
You can find out more about the Art Mela at CIMA’s Facebbook page.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)