Art and culture has always been synonymous with Pune, yet, there are several young artists with immense talent who find it difficult to gain recognition and sell their paintings.
In a candid conversation with Pune365, Milinda Natu, Pune based Art Critic emphatically says that people still need to be educated to understand an artist’s approach towards a painting and only then will they actually invest in it.
“Back in the old days, if one had to be an artist, they really had to be good at drawing to pursue a career in designing or fine arts.
I was very passionate about art and was equally good at drawing, hence I immediately knew my career path.
They were only two big schools in Maharashtra, Abhinav Kala Maha Vidyalaya and JJ School Of Art at Mumbai. I decided to study in my city and chose graphic and advertising designing along with art history, publication design and print production.
When I started my first job at a printing house, offset printing had just started coming in. When I saw somethings printed by these machines for the first time, I thought it was magic.
The earlier methods of printing were so outdated and everything had to be manually done. We have seen the entire gamut of change and seen how computers and digitisation have changed the design world.
Then fine art professionals only painted and commercial artists like me did the deigning jobs. But over time, there was this overlap which happened.
With an increase in the number of artists, people were unable to find jobs and to add to it, designers started painting as well. The artists had to take up teaching in schools too to fund themselves.
Some of our very talented artists come from very humble backgrounds and often come to the cities from villages to study.
They cannot market themselves well and in the process they are not taken seriously and often exploited.
In Mumbai especially, there were some high society women who owned their art studios and collected the work of such artists and sold them for commission. This of course still happens.
The artists from Mumbai knew how to market themselves to sell their art. Pune artists are not very street smart.
For a very long time, people had exhibit their work in Jehangir art gallery at Mumbai and earn with effort. Over time though, several galleries like Art2Day, Darpan, Renaissance, Let Art Work started in Pune and this helped catalyse Pune’s interest in art.
With their art selections, artist talks, fusion programs they help create awareness of different forms of art and aid budding artists
I still however believe that Pune does need to get more appreciative of art and art forms. While there is demand for the established artists work, Pune must also encourage the talented newer artists who find it difficult to sell their work. Pune artists still have to rely on going to Mumbai and finding customers there, or sell online etc
The younger artists are experimenting with various techniques and forms of art like modern art, using light projection, three dimensional art work, glow in the dark, using different materials to create a sculpture etc.
This may be difficult for people to understand, but the artists should stay FOCUSED to their work and pursue it without getting disillusioned.
There is no pattern to art and people are shifting from just using a brush in the canvas to these new and advanced forms. It is not the young artist who is at fault. It is the people who cannot relate to anything new and are not accepting enough.
Exposure to technology and being able to keep oneself updated is important The more people see new work, the more they will appreciate it.
Many people send their kids to classes to learn different art forms, but it is important to understand that the child must be genuinely interested in art to do well. It should just become a ritual that the child had been thrown into else the child will lose interest.
Knowing art, understanding it and being able to work for it diligently is crucial
Also, some people are taken in by superstitious beliefs attached to buying a painting with a butterfly, a horse, a storm in the sea, a sobbing woman etc. People just see the figurative things, but fail to understand the emotions that the artist wants to convey.
Honestly, I think we have very low visual literacy in Pune or for that matter in India, because appreciating visual art has never been a part of our culture.
People will buy jewellery for lakhs but won’t buy a panting for a thousand rupees. This is the area where India is currently lagging behind and this is certainly causing roadblocks for new artists to showcase their talent,” Milinda adds.
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