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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
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  • 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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10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.