Sun, sand and art
When one visits Goa, there is an intrinsic motive of every individual. Some head to the beach to relax and play while others grab a beer and enjoy the nightlife. An art lover however, finds beauty in every face, emotion and structure. To see what Goa has to offer in terms of art is tricky as the tourists often suggest mainstream places where people clog the beaches and stroll across the preserved architectural history.
To look for art across Goa would have been a herculean task as it would require a lot of time to look for different influences but Sunaparanta’s annual art festival Sensorium made the task easy as it brought together various artists from Goa and across the country along with few International artists to showcase their works. The premises, fully decorated since December 14, included various events such as workshops, discussions etc over a period of two months.
November to February is the peak season of Goa wherein people from across the country and outside come to visit the place. I happened to visit Sunaparanta during the Valentine’s weekend to see what the place had to offer. With the theme of love, the festival Sensorium reached out to encapsulate the essence, dimensions and intricacies of such a complex emotion.
The surreal surroundings of the venue catered to the flow of thoughts and memories which was invoked while looking at the artworks. Love was visible in every artwork and a few created genuine interest.
As one strolls around the campus of Sunaparanta, one finds space well utilised. Founded by Dattaraj V Salgaocar and Siddharth Dhanvant, it brings art from various disciplines under one roof. The tiny shelf in one of the galleries or the courtyard carries different stories. Various spaces were dedicated to certain artists and discussions or talks were held to talk about the challenges and connotations of their work.
The one piece of artwork which raised curiosity among the enthusiasts is Anita Dube’s work of 2013 titled ‘I Love You…’ which is made out of a harsh wire and covered with velvet. What the wires try to express is basically a verse from a poem written by Pablo Neruda. It reads: “I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of the hidden flowers, thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance risen from the earth lives darkly in my body.”
What Dube did was to write the text over and over with the help of wires to the extent that it becomes illegible, chewed and spat out. She tries to signify that love is not simple, it is an overload of emotions which has no beginning and no end. Located near the entrance, this artwork makes a viewer look at it and think about various possibilities. Some were even successful in their attempt to decode the scribbled words.
Gallery 1 has works by five artists and Mithu Sen’s work from 2015 titled ‘seXray’ shows two skeletal carcasses engaged in carnal pleasure. Sen’s painting is about the extinction of human communication and detachment of humans from its surroundings. But then the surroundings grow irrespective of ignorance. This shows the prevalence of love over wretchedness.
There is another heartbreaking incident which surrounded the works of artist Hema Upadhyay. She was allegedly murdered just two days before her exhibition was to be declared open at Sunaparanta. Her work from 2015 ‘Conversation’ talked about two lovers who were placed in different frames but were facing each other. Made out of rice grains, the strokes which highlight the countenance are black lines which comprise of words. The phrase reflects the conversation that the couple is having without talking.
Gallery 2 of Sunaparanta shows Praneet Soi’s work from 2008 titled- ‘Angelus Novus’- which is an interesting large size sculpture, inspired by a rendition of a 1920’s mono print by Paul Klee. This work in terracotta red is about an angel who is horrified to be bestowed with the future and it looks in horror with its face covered with his hands. This artwork hopes to find love but finds destruction at its feet. The sheer disappointment raises few questions.
Another appealing artwork is by Gyan Panchal titled ‘The sieve’ which is made with the help of discarded dish antenna. This piece of metal is transformed into a sieve as it is rescued but the rusticity and termite infestation leaves an abstract drawing that gives a glimpse of the effect of time on the dish antenna.
Artist Aditya Pande’s ‘Dramayana’ has the letters F-O-O-L embossed into a steel grill, where various geometrical shapes can be seen. A light from the projector falls upon the artwork and it appears as if it is being welded. The movement of the sparkly light across the grill shows change and journey, which begins at every stage in an individual’s life.
Many other artworks involved usage of sound and light along with scrap materials to create the masterpiece. Some international artists were also invited. Some were placed to showcase the talent Goa has to offer. Artistes like Roger Ballen, Pablo Bartholomew, Richard Bartholomew, Rana Begum, Atul Bhalla, Kedar Dhondu, Anju Dodiya, Chitra Ganesh, Alexander Gorlizki, Simryn Gill, Tushar Joag, Dhruv Malhotra, Manisha Parekh, Elena Pereira, Mona Rai, A. Ramachandran, Prem Sahib, Sharmila Samant, Arpita Singh, Surekha, LN Tallur and Thukral & Tagra also participated in the second edition of Sensorium.
Nilima and Justina Costa were of great help as they guided me through the series of artworks from different individuals. Then we sat to listen what Sanchayan Ghosh had to say about love which crosses boundaries. He collected audio and video footage of people who married people outside their caste, religion and race. The discussion was held under a shamiyana where the challenges, hopes and dreams along with complications of such a marriage were discussed.
When the evening came to an end, I witnessed that there is more to love than what is visible. With love’s annotations and connotations, one is easily bound to be baffled by the complexity of it but then as it turned out in Sanchayan Ghosh’s participatory performance, love comes down to the individual and his/ her surroundings.
With so many expressions by different artists through a variety of methods and techniques, Sunaparanta turned into a haven for enthusiasts who came in to look at them and appreciate them.