by Sumaa Tekur
There were no Monets or Da Vincis at this art show. One didn’t expect to find them, either. But India’s annual street art festival in Bangalore, having just completed its eighth edition, did the business equivalent of $328,000. That’s a fraction of what an actual Monet would fetch, but visitors bought canvas after canvas to create color-happy homes. After all, the main aim was to find a painting that matched the bedroom wall, or a sculpture that would fill a balcony corner with artistic curves — something that simply looks good and feels good.
That has been the strong suit of Chitra Santhe (“art fair,” in the south Indian language Kannada) — that one need not pretend to know anything about art to pick a painting. The art show comes out of the elite galleries and onto the streets, quite literally. For one full day, Kumara Krupa Road and its peripheral streets are blocked off so that artists can display their paintings along the pavements.
Chitra Santhe is getting bigger, and better, each year. In 2011, there were 1,400 artists from across India, in 1,300 stalls. It’s art for the masses, in the truest sense. Where else in the world can one find a 5-year-old artist and an 81-year-old artist (the youngest and oldest at this year’s fair) showcasing their work on the same platform … er, pavement?
A bit of art overkill? Not if a consumer has managed to lay hands on the perfect painting for the drawing room and an artist earns enough to indulge her passion one more time.