I see a swarm of people down the road and I am dismayed. I am at Chitra Santhe-the annual art fest at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat(KCP) and looking at the rush I am having second thoughts. I am no art lover nor an art collector and curiosity has brought me here just to check out this once-a-year fest that boasts of more than a 1000 artists gathered at one place.
I plunge right in and to my relief I could walk ahead-the crowd was not so jam packed as it looked. All roads in front of KCP,adjacent to KCP(Gandhi Bhavan, Crescent Road) are flooded with artists and their paintings. Art work is hanging everywhere on the trees, roads and pavements.
I move on. ” One piece @ 100, two for 150 and three for 300″, “Last one hour discount of 50%”, “Take any one picture for 500”- these labels sounded eerily familiar. I have seen such discounts at malls and the Big Bazaars. Art has to pay the bills, I know. But labels like these in midst of majestic artwork, think -the graceful Bengal Tiger, serene Buddha, Worli art was something surreal to experience and difficult to digest.
I walk on. Some art scenes catch my attention;the expecting mother in midst of toys dreaming about her baby, a dancer dancing abandonedly on the seashore, a serene Buddha feeding a deer, a girl joyfully eating a water melon etc. There were other works too like sand art, art on pencil nibs,on bottles etc. Caricatures, tattoos,face paintings jostled for space along with 3D artwork, graphics and murals. Ice-cream vans, sweet corn and ground nut sellers,candies not to mention Butter Gulkand carts took full advantage of Santhe. Their carts went breezing inside amidst the burgeoning crowd.
As I enter KCP, Saxophone music floated right across. There was a show going on and the seats in front of the podium were full. The chairs were a lifeline for people walking more than one and half kilometer to gaze at the paintings. The cafe inside KCP was doing brisk business and there was not an inch of space to get in and order. The gallery inside had the work of senior artists displayed.
As I exited the KCP I realized what a small world this was. I bumped in to one of my college peers. He was in the software profession but his hobby was water color painting.He had one of his stalls here and had been coming to the Santhe for more than 5 years now. As I walked out I met another counselor friend of mine whom I had not see for 4 years. We hugged and chattered nineteen to a dozen until the area grew dark and we were forced to move away from the area.
As I realized later I was one among the four lakh people who had come to look at the work of 1400 artists and nearly 80,000 paintings. Not a small world:-)
Tips to visit the Chitra Santhe if it is your first time:
- The santhe can take more than half a day but is worth visiting.
- If you get your vehicle be intelligent enough to figure out parking space. Check the google map and come prepared.
- The traffic too is diverted during this day on both sides of Kumar Krupa Road.
- Most of the paintings here are inexpensive. And they can make the perfect gift for house warming ceremony or for your new home.