Art Therapy + Retail Therapy At The Black Box

Huge art installations, oil on canvas works, mixed media works and sculptures are all popping up in an unforeseen location instead of at art galleries. I’m talking about art at shopping malls in Bangalore – first there was Art Bengaluru at UB City, and now there’s Whitefield Art Collective at VR Bengaluru – The Black Box on Whitefield Road.
I think its only a natural progression, as urban youth become more and more consumeristic, art too needs to evolve into utilizing new public spaces to become more visible and stay relevant.

At the end of the day, as an artist I make art because I want to share it with people; the idea that hundreds of people will see my work is an exciting thing. And, in a place like VR Bengaluru, thousands of people will see it, on their way to shop for fishnet stockings at H&M or when shopping for one-mile clothing at Muji, whereas in a museum or gallery it can be limited to a slow trickle of people.

Sara Arakkal, Raj Bagaria, MF Hussain (?), Sumi Gupta and Kapila Sengupta on the opening night

Whitefield Art Collective on its second outing this year is dedicated to the late artist Yusuf Arakkal. WAC is curated in association with VR by Art Chutney’s founder, Raj Bagaria. For the uninitiated, he was also the curator/organizer behind UB City’s Art Bengaluru and the Taj Westend’s Art Corridor. Most of my artist friends tell me that gallerists are uppity and dismissive – not Raj and his lovely lovely lady love, Pavitra.

Fishnet stockings, one-mile clothing… and art

At the opening last evening, I also chatted with Sumi Gupta, Director – International Marketing & Product Development, Virtuous Retail (VR) and she said ‘We all shop. Everybody loves retail therapy.But what we want to do at VR goes beyond commerce. We want to create inclusive, interactive public spaces by connecting people and communities through art.’

In spite of being an artist, I find it very intimidating to walk into a ‘white cube’ gallery. It continues to be a foreign experience and brings out my agoraphobia because it’s not something I’m used to doing often. At least, not yet. But I take like a fish to water at any shopping mall. So, it makes sense to bring art to people in a setting they already know and are comfortable in.

On the opening night, I was heartened to see that people readily and happily ‘consumed’ art – by instantly clicking pictures and videos and ‘sharing’ them on social media. But at the same time, I overheard a lot of them critiquing, appreciating and saw many others rapt in thought while viewing some of the conceptual art.

It’s Democracy Dammit!

What I love most about art at a mall is that it’s becoming far more democratic – I don’t have to rely on the constrained opinions of an elite few from the old school- I’m far more interested to see how the young adults, teens, tweens, the children react to my pieces.

Whitefield Art Collective At VR Bengaluru, 24th Feb to 24th Mar 2017

Is art enticing visitors into commercial shopping malls? Yes! As a consumer, I’m getting to see beautiful works of art while I go about my shopping for free. For the first time, going to a mall is enriching my life. My friends know how much I complain about Bangaloreans only ending up at malls on weekends. Well, not anymore! Till March 24th 2017, I urge and encourage you to take your family to VR Bengaluru.

The Sched – 24th Feb to 24th March 2017

Come say hello to me – some of my work will be on display till 24th March. I’m also live painting my own giant wall mural there as part of the ‘Young Artists Basement Art Project’ and I was also one of the judges at the ‘Art Buddies’ student art competition on Sunday, 26th February at 3:30 PM on the Sky Deck.

To register for these and other exciting art-related sub-events at VR Bengaluru, please click here : https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf2RDPmmrSeCmlhwyJKjGy21zhSQXKsEHUx2aYDsoAyys9TzQ/viewform

Art Buddies - Student Art Competition
Art Buddies – Student Art Competition

Also, don’t miss the Pop Up Art Buzzar on 4th and 5th March or the movie screening of ‘Gaali Beeja’, an award winning movie by Babu Eashwar Prasad on 12th March, 6PM. You can register for the movie too at the link above.

As for the art itself, there’s an impressive line up of contemporary artists including Yusuf Arakkal, Abhilasha Pandey, Jagannath Paul, Yati Jaiswal etc. This is in addition to thought-provoking installation art and art by artists from some of the best art schools across India including MSU, Baroda, Kala Bhavana, Shantiniketan and Srishti Institute of art and design.

See you there!!

For more info, visit the VR Bengaluru Facebook page by clicking here. 

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