As I entered the big hall, it looked like a classroom without a teacher. More than thirty people were in the hall. There were huge desks where artists were working, contemplating and creating their respective art-pieces.
Everyone seemed engrossed in their work.
I was looking for Meenakshi who was also a participant in the Young Artist workshop in Patna. Before her I spotted the strange canvas she was working on; a wooden frame with a strip of canvas piece attached to it in the centre and hair like threads extending to the frame and falling on sides. The joy of finding Meenakshi was over powered by the excitement that the half finished work (by Meenakshi and others) evoked.
It felt like home.
It felt like a newsroom where some reporters chatter, some editors work seriously and few others make frantic calls. There would be pens, keyboards, notebooks and newspapers. Here the range was yet larger: pens, pencils, threads, nails, hammers, paper cones, brushes, oils, colors of different kinds, charcoals, pairs of scissors, sewing needles, glue, wooden materials, knives, spatulas, scrapers and what not.
It was a real workshop.
Before reaching Meenakshi, my eyes got on a painting with tiny colorful things stuck to it. It looked like a miniature form of crowd. It was a work by an artist named Namrata Pandit. She works with cones. Cones- those little things made of paper which we use to eat ground nut, puffed rice, peanuts and what not. It was puzzling but really interesting. Later I came to know that she is an established name in the Art world.
Meenakshi was working on an installation named- photos of my journey. It was her tribute to Nirbhaya (The girl who was brutally raped and murdered in New Delhi in 2012).
Another artist named Avadh Bihari was working on the theme of Aam Admi party whose party symbol is broom. The party that was a product of the social movement and has recently stamped its presence in the Delhi elections.
Meenakshi gave me a tour of the workshop explaining the art works. Dhananjay, a sculptor by training was working on a piece called Manas-Patal. Intense, intriguing and layered work.
Someone was working with threads, another working on the theme of Faith and few others making calendar art works which we usually see on the drawing room walls. One of those works was so realistic that I passed by it assuming it a wooden board with few pictures stuck on it.
The painter Amit Kumar joked that his works are so realistic that they are usually not considered paintings but photographs.
There was a painting on the endangered species and another performance on the theme of migration. Migration being a well debated topic in Bihar, it suited the workshop and artist Naresh Kumar made a valid point.
The burning social issues impact artists and common people alike. They react in their own ways. The challenge for artists is to convey their opinion through their art in a way that has maximum impact on the audience. To become a masterpiece an art work has to have a long lasting impact. I could see that kind of promise in some artists and in their work.
I had the chance to interact with a few of them. Meenakshi had long conversations with many of them. As a self taught artist, Meenakshi learnt many new things.
As an outsider, I learnt that Art is a creative act. To appreciate or create art, you don’t need to learn it in any school. Just as no one can teach you the best way to write a report, no one can teach you the best way to make an art.
If you are sensitive, eager to learn and open to ideas, you can create. With those young artists, I spent two days and I felt that I am also an artist at heart.
Meenakshi has been saying this to me all along but I realized it in Patna.