Brush strokes of harmony

Updated: Apr 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
The bonhomie between India and Pakistan, at least in the artistic arena, is currently on an all-time high. Whether it be in the releases of movies, performances by singers, or art exhibitions. The latest art show to cash in on the trend is called Euphonic Palettes: Contemporary Art from India and Pakistan. Having already shown in Mumbai, it is on at Delhis Galerie Romain Rolland at the Alliance Franaise till May 2.

The point is to make the people see the resonance between the two people and their cultures, stresses Elizabeth Rogers, who has curated the Delhi part of the exhibition. Once the works are hung together, no one will be able to say which painting is from India and which from Pakistan.

A point that does find resonance at least among the 25 participating artists. Whether it is the legacy of the collective memory between the two nations, for the socio-cultural similarities, the artists wholeheartedly agree that the bonhomie is not only good for the message it sends out, but also for art itself.

Though the message is important as well, as Farhat Akhtar, who worked to get the show together in Pakistan, said. There are a lot of misconceptions, especially among the youngsters. Exchanges like these help people to meet each other and clear mental block, she says.

And of course there is the nostalgia. Culture knows no boundaries. And the subcontinental identity is something we have to build towards, says Raja Changez Khan, Pakistani poet and artist. Indian art has a 5,000-year-old history, while Pakistan is a new name. Our artists remained derivative and creativity was not given much leeway initially. But this is changing now as bright young minds are emerging and are far more individualistic, he says.

Satish Gupta doesnt see art from India and Pakistan as being from different styles. Due to our shared collective memory, we instinctively feel a bonding.

This is something RM Naeem, for whom this is the second exhibition in recent months to India, agrees with. The exchange of ideas and culture is always important. As is generally said, neighbours are closest to us. I have been hearing about Delhi from childhood, as my ancestors were from the area. Just as many people here would have heard about Lahore from their grandparents.

But theres life beyond the bonhomie too, and once the artists get together, the talk is all art. For it is rare that artists meet together like this, says Naeem. So Sujata Dere is interested in art that you want to look at again and again, for that is what attracts you. Or Sadaf Naeem, who looks inwards for a personal dialogue for her works.

Other participating artists include Najmi Sura, Jamil Naqsh, Saeed Akhtar, Paritosh Sen, Shruti Gupta Chandra, Asad Faruki, Anjolie Ela Menon and Sunil Das.

A blend that will not be easy to see as separate strands for much longer.