Etching a revival

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Aug 31 2008, 06:34am hrs
The medium has drawn the attention of a gamut of artists starting from the masters like Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione and Picasso to MF Hussain and Damien Hirst to name a few. Etching is an intaglio printmaking process that, since the time of Rembrandt has been the artists first choice for artistic prints and creative expression. But etching is a dying medium today with very few artists and galleries are willing to explore this form of art.

This is a special medium but has been totally ignored by Indian collectors, says Renu Modi of Gallery Espace. The impenetrability of the market is also one of the major causes of disappointment and frustration among art connoisseurs. The gallery owners dont take much interest in this medium anymore because the value of these prints in India is very low and they hardly sell, adds Modi.

Artist Manu Parekh, who is a part of an ongoing exhibition in Delhi titled Mark of Masters 1, that is showcasing an exclusive portfolio of 60 limited editions of etchings by 12 leading artists of the country, adds that people dont know much about this medium. Among people in Europe and America, this art from is extremely popular whereas in India people still prefer paintings. As an artist I find etching very exciting and can let my imagination take off. An artist can create wonders as the concentration levels are high because of the limited tools used, says Parekh. For him, possessing a Picasso etching gives him the motivation to do similar work. Artist Yashpal Chandrakar, who has been the force behind getting the ongoing exhibition together, has been putting his heart and soul in this art form for the past 18 years. It took him three years to get together artists like Jogen Chowdhury, Jatin Das, Madhavi Parekh, Prafulla Dahanukar, Suvaprasanna for the exhibition.

People think that etching is like printing, which is not true. Etching is the basis of printing and is not new to India. Vedas were written using this art form, says Chandrakar. For Shobha Bhatia, of Gallerie Ganesha that will have the ongoing exhibition till September 10, the aim of organising the exhibition was to make people more aware of this art form. It makes sense for people to know more about etching in India as people do want to buy good art and paintings are often out of their reach, adds Bhatia. Modi feels that no one has made an effort to do anything about etching in a manner that gives it support to survive. The market is equally confused about etching, she adds. The art fraternity feels that the only solution in sight to revive etching is to begin a movement with known artists. Organising large shows dedicated to this art form can definitely give a lease of life to etching, is the popular opinion.