For the past 11 years, the Centre for International Modern Art or CIMA, one of the Kolkata’s foremost art galleries, has been hosting their Art Mela, which has become one of the most popular art events in the city. City residents are so eager to get their hands on potential masterpieces that people start queuing up to get in as early as 6:00 AM, even though the gallery doors officially open at 11:00 AM and goes on till 8:00 PM.
One of the reasons for its immense popularity is the quality of the art for sale. The artists are invited to participate but the final selection is handpicked by the gallery owners. “We only display what we like. We want to make sure that what people are getting is really good art, not bad art at cheap prices. So, we are very particular,” says Pratiti Basu Sarkar, chief administrator at CIMA Gallery.
Art Mela was started with the aim of attracting youngsters into the gallery and art space. “Our focus was to develop a new group of young collectors. To help them inform and educate themselves on the kind of art and artists they [could] like. Often people come having heard of some of the big established artists, but when they view the work it doesn’t resonate with them. Art Mela gives them an opportunity to explore a wide variety of artists and develop their taste. Because we keep the prices reasonable, they can be adventurous without taking a huge risk, “says Sarkar.
The edition brings together the works of over 70 established and emerging artists from around the country, and the process of discovery is not limited to the audience alone. The established artists are drawn to this fair for the sense of freedom it gives them to create without the pressure of adhering to the particular styles that they have been defined by. Often this experimentation leads to a new direction in their work. So this is a great platform to discover a unique piece of art or to see a different side of your favourite artist.
Take a walk around and there’s a large assortment of styles and forms to choose from – abstract art like Sidhartha Karmakar’s near monochromatic sleek designs (priced at Rs 12,000); classic styles like the evocative goddess series by Atin Basak (priced at Rs 22,500); minimal and contemporary paper cutwork art by Harendra Kumar Kushwaha (a personal favourite). There is also an array of works by established artists including Jogen Chowdhury, Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Samir Aich, Chandana Hore, Paresh Maity, Asim Pal, Shyamal Roy, and many more.
All featured images are from the CIMA website and not for sale at this exhibition.
CIMA, one of Kolkata's foremost art galleries, is hosting its 12th edition of the Art Mela this weekend.