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  Life   More Features  06 Jan 2019  Unique Auction for a noble cause

Unique Auction for a noble cause

Published : Jan 6, 2019, 7:27 am IST
Updated : Jan 6, 2019, 7:27 am IST

The preview exhibition of Art Rises for Kerala auction by biennale foundation to raise funds for CM’s Distress Relief Fund is open.

The show begins with G.R. Iranna’s Roots Under the Carpet done in mixed media on paper.
 The show begins with G.R. Iranna’s Roots Under the Carpet done in mixed media on paper.

At Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi, Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, Sunil V., secretary, and volunteers of the foundation are busy giving final touches to the preview exhibition of Art Rises for Kerala (ARK) auction, an initiative by the foundation to raise funds for the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund, which is formed to help those who were affected by the floods of August 2018. The rooms of the bungalow are filled with works of eminent national and international artists, who whole-heartedly donated their works to the auction, which will be held on January 18 at Grand Hyatt, Bolgatty Island. “The auction is the first of its kind in Kerala,” says Bose, taking some time off from his work. “It is done in collaboration with Mumbai-based SaffronArt, India’s biggest art auction house. We have about 50 works by prominent artists,” adds Bose.

The show begins with G.R. Iranna’s Roots Under the Carpet done in mixed media on paper. It is followed by Gigi Scaria’s Roots of Disobedience, Sumedh Rajendran’s Half Real and Bhagyanath C.’s oil and acrylic painting depicting the circle of life. The show does not end here. It goes on to the alleys and rooms of the bungalow. As you move further, more significant names would appear. Some of them are Amrita Sher-Gil, a prominent figure in the Indian art history whose drawings Nude and A Study are on display, and contemporary artists like Anish Kapoor, A. Ramachandran, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Anju and Atul Dodiya, Dayanita Singh, Manisha Parekh, Madhusudhanan, Shilpa Gupta and Mithu Sen. International artists are Francesco Clemente and Robert Montgomery.

“Auction is not an easy task. A lot of work goes behind it. Usually, it is done after spending a long time researching on the same. Though the auction here was conceptualised on a short notice, artists and art collectors generously contributed to it. For instance, the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation gave two of Sher-Gil’s works,” explains Bose. “We had done an auction in Mumbai to collect funds for the Kochi Muziris Biennale. It is for the first time that an art auction is carried out to raise funds for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Entire proceeds from the process will go to the CM’s fund,” adds Bose, who will also take part in the auction. “If I get a work, I will collect it,” he smiles.

The foundation believes in the project. As Sunil says, it is a good and positive exercise. “We have used our eco-system around the world to make it happen,” he says. “When the floods occurred, though people from art community personally contributed to the relief works, the biennale foundation could not do much as production processes for the 2018 biennale were on. Then, this idea struck us. And, we decided to use our eco-system to help the needy,” he says.  

When they suggested the idea to artists and art collectors, the responses were instant and positive. “The enthusiasm from artists like Anish Kapoor was fantastic,” says Sunil, while Bose adds, “The first call was to Anish Kapoor and he said, ‘anything for Kerala, anything for the biennale foundation.’ He has done a work exclusively for the auction.”

Bose further says that the foundation came up with ARK as its members felt that they needed to do more for the flood-affected. “We had done in smaller ways to help the affected. Some donated their salary while others supplied food. We also distributed books to students in Alappuzham, Ernakulam and Thrissur. However, we felt that it was not enough and hence this,” he says.   

Sunil says the artists’ contribution to the auction is a token of their love and respect for the people of Kerala. “I feel that Kerala shares a special bond with the world. When we asked, they heartily responded. Some of them were participants of the previous biennale. So, they have a great feeling about the place,” he says.

In his words, the sense of unity that Keralites showed during the floods reflects in the works on display. “Though the floods were disastrous, on the spiritual side, it showed the unity of our people. It was really a positive thing to come out of a devastating situation. That positivity, you can see in the works. The artists didn’t send random works, instead they donated high-valued works,” says Sunil.

One can take part in the auction online, too. “Collectors are coming from everywhere. I want youngsters to take part in it,” says Bose. The preview is open till January 17 from 10 am to 6 pm.

Tags: auction