ShopArt ArtShop: An event to celebrate contemporary art and village life in Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh

Local elements available in Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh are used to create masterpieces that are displayed in the empty shops lining up the village.

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Delhi-based artist Puneet Kaushik, Gunehar's Frank Schlichtmann and British-Indian pop artist. source: www.scroll.in
  • ShopArt ArtShop has been successful in opening up the village of Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh to the world of contemporary art
  • In 2013, by the end of the festival, the entire village had been transformed into an art gallery
  • The second edition of SA AS took place from May 14- June 14, 2016 and it involved 11 contemporary artists from India and the world

In a one of its kind art festival, or rather art celebration, ShopArt ArtShop (SA AS) is successful in opening up the village of Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh to the world of contemporary art.

Located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India, Gunehar is a small hill village populated mainly by the nomadic tribes of Gaddis and Bara Bhangalis.

According to the Indian Express report, Frank Schlichtmann- the mind behind SA AS, settled in Gunehar 8 years back. His childhood memories and love for the state of Himachal Pradesh called out to him.

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In his bid to do something for the village he loved, in 2013, he invited 13 artists from all over India and world to transform the various empty shops lining the village into art shops.

The 2013 event was a success and therefore this year the members declared ShopArt ArtShop2 that started on May 14, 2016. In the month month long festival, the artists from India as well as abroad participated in the paid residency.

In their month long stay, the artists lived with the villagers, became a part of their lifestyle and created contemporary art that was displayed in these empty shops and desolate places. The artists were able to successfully experience another culture and lifestyle.

The villagers were also equally involved in this event. By the end of the festival, the entire village had been transformed into an art gallery. Local elements had been used to create masterpieces that were displayed in the shops.

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The initiative had been a huge success. More than 6,000 people had visited the remote village which is not easily found on a tourist’s map.

A group of international artists are in residence in Gunehar — a remote hill village — in a bid to engage in ‘non-elitist’ art. Image Source: IANS
A group of international artists are in residence in Gunehar — a remote hill village — in a bid to engage in ‘non-elitist’ art. Image Source: IANS

“It is a unique conceptual arts project that brings emerging artists — alongside established artists — to a remote village for a month-long project, ending in a festival of arts, culture, exhibitions, movies, fashion shows and drama,” said SA AS curator Frank Schlichtmann to the Indian Express. “ShopArt ArtShop is first and foremost about being able to present art beyond the confines of the contemporary city-based art scene. It’s an opportunity for a group of artists to come together in a fully-funded month-long residency organised by the 4tables project,” said Schlichtmann to the Indian Express reporter.

Kaushik’s installation of the Metal Rose. souce: www.indianexpress,com
Kaushik’s installation of the Metal Rose.
souce: www.indianexpress,com

The second edition of SA AS took place in May 14- June 14, 2016. Organised in collaboration with artists Ketna Patel and Puneet Kaushik, the art celebration involved 11 contemporary artists from India and the world.

“The artists who came for the residency programme were taken around the village to choose their spaces. It turns out that for the second time running, not only were all the landlords totally accommodating, but also did not ask for rent,” said a happy Schlichtmann to the Indian Express.

The final day of the festival was a huge success complete with fashion shows, music, film screenings, and more.

The event has been able to maintain the village intact and open it up to the world of 21st century. It bridges the gap between urban art and rural setting. It also opens up the process of inception of a concept to the completion of the artwork to the public.

It is not wrong to say that ShopArt ArtShop is a one of its kind event that celebrates contemporary art, the simplicity of village life, differences among cultures and urban artists.

-by Devika Todi, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: devika_todi

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