THE SHAPE OF THINGS

A compelling motivation behind working with emerging artists, especially those recently graduated from art school and standing at the cusp of imminent professional careers is that youthful creative fervour and infectious positivity never fails to inspire. More importantly, it is quite exciting to identify artistic practice as a process of growth; something not yet fully formed but loaded with promise. It is no different for the twelve aspiring artists in this show who all belong to the Kala Bhavana, MFA Class of 2017. Although, this here is not a definitive list as many had already left the fold of their alma mater; however, these artists are, to an extent, representative of the pedagogical diversity existing in Kala Bhavana today.

Kala Bhavana, the Visual Arts Institute at the Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, founded by Rabindranath Tagore, has rightfully earned its place in the annals of history. However, if the measure of any institution, especially one that will celebrate its centenary two years hence, is whether its philosophy can adapt to changing times then one cannot but agree that it has indeed been able to posit itself at the vanguard of fine arts education in India. Kala Bhavana has been able to build upon its past pedagogy through a relaxed yet structured approach to art teaching that also taps into the best features of Tagore’s vision such as eclectic learning experiences outside the classroom, inter-departmental porosity, proximity to nature and an exposure to inclusive community-based art praxis.

This multi-pronged approach with concomitant interests towards skills based classroom teaching along with exposure to new media/methodologies, and encouraging and implementing a research-based attitude towards contemporary issues while developing strategies of reflexivity inculcate a sense of contemporaneity in students.  It would not be wrong to point out that if artistic creation is a thought process, then works of art are possibly the physical manifestations of art teaching and theoretical discourse that students imbibe. The twelve young artists here (some of whom have also graduated from Kala Bhavana before pursuing their post graduation in art) and their works (all selected from their final post-graduate degree display) embody the afore-mentioned multifaceted approach. Taken as a whole, these youngsters impress with the versatility of their practice and seriousness of intent. They also bring a refreshingly innocent bravado to the table that is yet untouched by dictates of commerce. Their courage, one can hope, will mature into promise as they give us a glimpse into the shape of things to come.