On January 7, the 21st edition of the event will see Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath transform into a riot of colours; it is expected to attract five lakh people

Come January 7 (Sunday) and the Shivananda Circle in Karnataka will be filled with different shades and colours as over 1,500 artists from 22 states of the country will congregate here to participate in Chitra Santhe (art fair), the one-day extravaganza held in Karnataka’s cultural epicentre, Bengaluru.

Organised annually in the first week of January for the past 20 years, the jamboree’s 21st edition will see art lovers, including students and connoisseurs, seize all the four neighbouring streets of Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (KCP). With drawings, paintings, graphic prints, miniature paintings, caricatures and murals on offer at affordable prices, there is something for everyone.

Art For All

The motto for this street-style art fest is: “Art for All”. Each side of the road is packed with art stalls as far as eyes can see. Art pieces cutting across forms and mediums — water colour, oil, acrylic, pencil, ink drawings, fiberglass plaster sculptures, prints, graphic media works, etc. — are all available here.

People flock to Chitra Santhe with great zeal and it has expanded in size over time. Interestingly, parents also bring their young children along. The wide variety of artworks on display include traditional paintings — from Mysuru and Tanjore to Rajasthan to Madhubani — along with various traditional, modern, and contemporary works. With the prices ranging between Rs 100 to Rs 1 lakh, literally anyone can buy an artwork, without the interference of middlemen.

Dialogues and discourses

Chitra Santhe has grown bigger and better every year since the first edition was held in 2003. “This year, there will be dialogues, debate and artistic interactions at the festival as KCP, which organizes this mela, keeps in mind that art grows only through interactions and discussions,” says D A Upadhya, who teaches art at Chamarajendra College of Visual Arts.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM D K Shivakumar will participate in the inaugural function on Sunday and share their opinion on the importance of art and culture in sensitising the society, says B L Shankar, president of KCP, and a senior leader of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). “This edition of Chitra Santhe is dedicated to the achievements of Indian scientists in space research and related activities,” he added.

The prices of artworks on the display at the street-style fair range between Rs 100 to Rs 1 lakh.

Expected footfall: Five lakhs

According to Shankar, the organisers received a total of 2,726 applications from artists, students and art institutions to open stalls at Chitra Santhe. The number of applicants from Karnataka stands at 1,386 — that is 51 percent of the total application received. While 7.6 per cent applications are from the specially-abled artists, 6 percent of applicants are from the senior citizen category. Organisers have not rejected any senior citizen artists and specially-abled artists.

While art stalls would be set up as usual in the premises of Parishat and on the Crescent Road, additional 300 stalls would be set up in the nearby Sevadal grounds to facilitate more participation. Besides, service roads under the Shivananda Circle Steel flyover will also have stalls to accommodate a huge number of applicants. “We are expecting footfall to the tune of 5 lakhs. To address the parking problem, it has been decided to employ the services of BMTC metro feeder buses from Vidhana Soudha, Majestic and Mantri Square Mall. Over 30 women have shown interest in running Namma Yatri auto-rickshaws for helping the art lovers,” he said.

An invaluable space

KCP, a landmark for visual arts, comprises a network of museums, galleries, and archives that displays a valuable collection of folk, traditional, modern and contemporary art. Of the 19 galleries, 14 are permanent museums, exhibiting artworks of internationally celebrated artists such as Nicholas Roerich, Svetoslav Roerich, Krishna Reddy, Abanindranath Tagore and others. Its collection includes more than 500 rare original Mysore traditional paintings and over 2000 leather puppets.

It has a world-class museum complex that reflects the passion of those who contributed to its establishment such as M Arya Murthy and M S Nanjunda Rao, the founding president and secretary of the institution. Over the past six decades, KCP has not only reshaped how audiences perceive and comprehend art history but has also served as an invaluable learning hub for art enthusiasts.

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