Celebrating 30 years of Indo-ASEAN relations with an art camp in Udaipur. Meet the artists | Catch My Job


Twenty artists from India and ASEAN countries shared colours, cultures and canvases at this nine-day artist camp in Udaipur.

Twenty artists from India and ASEAN countries shared colours, cultures and canvases at this nine-day artist camp in Udaipur.

The easels dot a vast, lush lawn, protectively overlooking the Aravalli Hills of Udaipur. These easels contain canvases bursting with color, personality and culture, indicating different levels of completion.

The mountains easily make a museum. Among them is the moon that rises every night. Artists from India and ASEAN countries collaborated in the nine-day camp, both of which managed to get into most of the canvases here

Take the work of 26-year-old Vietnamese artist Flynn: a calm shade of blue wash on a canvas made of crumpled paper, with the moon and ocean as its main characters. The former permeates the latter, with what can only be called a “gentle, reflective” quality to mark their connection. “A lot of my work is a dialogue between past and present, old and new,” says Flynn.

Japanese slut finishes her dirty work

Japanese slut finishes her gond job Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Flynn was one of the 20 artists who took part in an exhibition titled Ocean of Connectivity at the Taj Arabli Resort and Spa, Udaipur, organized by the Ministry of External Affairs and creative arts agency Seher, which culminated in an exhibition in attendance on Tuesday. Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh.

“Oceans connect these countries. Along with maritime trade, seas also provide their livelihood. Interestingly, these seas are the borders that separate them too. So, it’s interesting to see artists’ interpretations of this theme,” says Sanjeev Bhargava, founder of SEH. Disruption of culture is the objective of the camp, he adds. And the arts prove to be the ideal tool to implement this. Although ASEAN artists are recommended by their respective culture ministries, the repertoire of Indian artists at the camp lacked representation from southern India.

Community in the making

Over the course of nine days, several hours of conversations, a few workshops and a day out of town, most of the abstract demonstrations came to fruition. While some experimented, others stuck to their preferred style.

Melissa Abugh’s large canvas is Rajasthani. The Philippine artist has given life to a swirling folk dancer, her skirt revealing the ecstatic world that characterizes the eastern kingdom. A piece of bright yellow cloth sourced from a nearby market and mirror work that pays homage to the state’s craftsmanship complete the canvas.

The flare of the skirt leads one to the ocean, as the artist tries to draw a parallel between the underwater motion and the dancer’s sense of liberation. “The water, you see, comes from the house [the Philippines]. When someone is dancing, it’s like they’re underwater, and when you’re underwater, it’s like walking around in a skirt. Heavy, but once you get the flow, you’re good,” says Melissa.

Sone Khounphasert from Laos at work

Sone Khounphasert from Laos at work Photo credit: Special Arrangements

He added that he discussed his work with fellow Indian artists almost every day. “When they share their opinion, and what I can do better, I start again,” he says with a laugh. “The camp made me realize that I can work with other people after all.”

The Gond work of Japanese Shyam is the only canvas on display with tribal influences: a colorful contemporary retelling of a Gond legend. “Trying to tell the story of how the world came to be; How different forms of life arose, from water. Folklore has it that Lord Shiva asked to fetch a crow myth To create life – the crow could not find, and a crab offered to help a palace under the water, one of its claws in the sky and one under the water.”

Working artist Laishram Meena

Artist Laishram Meena at work Photo credit: Special Arrangements

With impressive details, crabs take up most of the canvas, along with fish swarming over a gnarled tree. “I am trying to take traditional art forward with a contemporary touch. I try to make the details more minute,” says Japanese of Bhopal, whose father Jangarh Singh Shyam was one of the pioneers who brought Gond art to global attention.

After finishing his canvases, Thailand’s Phattaraporn Linpanit is busy making quick, freehand, watercolor portraits. The artwork he created in the camp is largely derived from Indian motifs; A vase that explodes in clouds of brightly colored flora, juxtaposed by a soothing blue sea. Chhattisgarh-based Yogendra Tripathi’s abstract canvases, on the other hand, invite one to interpret and reinterpret: an earthy brown tone, with patches of light shadow, an amorphous shape that could possibly be the sun, hills outlined in black. The landscape of the host city is the focus here. “Local elements always make their way onto my canvas. If I start with a line, it shows me the way forward,” says the Chhattisgarh-based artist.

Artists in camp

Artists in camp Photo credit: Special Arrangements

The artists unanimously agreed on how rich the camp was. But some of them return to the dark reality of surviving as commercial artists in their respective countries. Sone Khounphasert, from Laos, shows me his stall at the night market over a video call. (An art teacher at an arts college with 15 students, the night market is a source of income for tourists.) “But post-Covid, it’s not that easy,” she says. To the side, his canvas stands: Buddha’s hand painted in bright gold from which a lotus blossoms, against the black canvas: “It makes me optimistic,” he says.

After working together for nine days, they are now more aware of the cultural similarities of their countries. “New learning emerges when you share your music, dance and art with artists from other countries,” says Yogendra. “That’s exactly what happened here. One had to learn even when we ate together or went for a walk.”


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