The exhibition was inaugurated by Maharashtra cultural affairs minister Sudhir Mungantiwar who lit the inaugural lamp along with Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. The minister lauded TOI for giving artists, “who work with their heart and soul”, a platform to showcase their work.
“Around 150 artists are displaying over 200 of their works using the Art of India platform and I congratulate TOI for creating a place for art in every corner of the country and touching many hearts — from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, Kamrup to Kutch. If there’s any culture in the world that makes us proud, it is ours and TOI is part of our cultural heritage,” said Mungantiwar.
‘Rare to find such a large exhibition’
There’s a lot of diversity inherent in our country including art and through this exhibition people are getting to see that diversity,” said Maharashtra cultural affairs minister Sudhir Mungantiwar after browsing the artworks on display.
Guest of Honour Birla spent a few moments quietly contemplating the range of artworks on display. “I haven’t seen an exhibition with so many artists and such quality of art that is uniformly outstanding. It’s very rare to find such a large exhibition with a good deal of both young and senior artists. I must congratulate TOI for taking up this good cause,” he said.
Little wonder that the city’s ‘arterati’ turned up in strength at Snowball Studios in Worli. Many of the viewers were struck by the variety of original art on display. If there were Jayasri Burman’s vivid goddesses looking resplendent on one wall, another had a muted but powerful charcoal by Ajay De while a sculpture by Rohan Pawar reminded one of an immigrant’s travails. The mediums were as edgy — Jaideep Mehrotra used tech tools to create a time-lapse infinite loop video titled ‘Within’ while Shayonti Salvi used the broken seashells found on beaches as inspiration for her ceramic works.
Sivakumar Sundaram, chairman of the Executive Committee of Bennett Coleman & Company (BCCL), pointed out that art is about freedom, freedom is all about expression and expression is all about creativity. “AOI started in Ahmedabad and this year we’ve brought it to Mumbai. As our vision is to allow and enable expressions of creative freedom, this is a tangible depiction of that endeavour by TOI.”
Ajay Ashar, CMD of Ashar Realty, a partner in the show, said, “After Covid, artists need the support, exposure and platform. The beautiful paintings we’re seeing at AOI are proof of that.”
Art fairs coming back to the fray — after lockdowns shuttered galleries and art fests and more people began buying art online — is good news to Tarana Khubchandani, curator of AOI who dwelled on the need to think differently about the future of art and step away from the virtual world that people are currently inhabiting into a tangible world of brick and mortar. “What we’re really trying to do is, in a post-Covid world, raise a buzz about art consciousness and bring the human touch and feel back,” she said.