Brushstrokes of support: Art world steps in to help in Covid relief through online auctions

By: |
May 30, 2021 3:15 PM

The DAG sale that featured 51 works from the gallery collection raised an amount of Rs 1 crore that was donated to the Sood Charity Foundation, Khalsa Aid India and the Hemkunt Foundation, a gallery statement said.

Other fundraisers hosted by the art fraternity over the last month include Saffronart's 'Art rises for India' sale, and DAG's Hope for Humanity' sale. (Representational image)

As India battles the second Covid wave and millions pitch in to help, the art world too has stepped in through online auctions and other fundraisers for varied causes and different groups of people.

From celeb artist Subodh Gupta and biggie auction house Saffronart to smaller initiatives like online marketplace Chitrakar and the Vadehra art gallery, the community has joined hands to aid artists in need, including traditional craftspersons, and help fund Covid relief efforts across the country.

So, notwithstanding the toll the pandemic has taken on their businesses, artists, galleries and auction houses have risen to the occasion in these extraordinary times to hold fundraising auctions and exhibitions, the complete proceeds from which are donated.

One such sale on June 1 will have on offer nine signature works by artist couple Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta.

“Watching the past few weeks unfold in India has been traumatic for every family. Almost all of us have been touched in one way or another by the unprecedented scale of the second Covid wave in India,” Kher said in a statement.

Through the online sale on www.pledgebybhartiandsubodh.com, the artists hope to raise Rs 1 crore which will go towards supporting the ongoing relief efforts by two non-profit organisations — Hemkunt Foundation and Goonj.

“We decided to help in the way that we could as artists to make work whilst in lockdown and sell with 100 per cent proceeds going directly to both NGOs. We hope that we can raise Rs 1 crore towards sustainable long term aid,” Kher said.

Among the works on offer will be her ‘A Small World Together’ series.

Extending her long standing artistic exploration of found objects and rituals within the everyday, the series superimposes bindis of different colours, shapes, and sizes onto existing world maps.

With the detailed maps as a base and the bindis suggesting certain patterns of movement, her works speak to the “intrinsic global connectivity of the ongoing crisis and of broader humanity”, she said

Gupt a’s works, done in his quintessential style, use everyday kitchen utensils to create a dialogue between the humble elements in domestic lives that have taken on an even greater importance through lockdowns.

His ‘A Bouquet of Flowers’, for instance, reinterprets the ordinarily short lifespan of flowers in stainless steel.

“Art can’t change the world on its own but it can make it a kinder and more human place to live in. Our works are both witness to and a celebration of the value of the ordinary and everyday markers of human habit and daily ritual.

“In our small way we just wanted to help in this huge humanitarian effort that brings us all closer together in the spirit of sharing,” Gupta said in the statement.

Another upcoming fundraiser directed towards Covid relief is Mumbai-based auction house Prinseps’ Modern Art Sale scheduled in the second half of June.

The sale will feature four important works by renowned artists Gobardhan Ash and Sunil Madhav. The auction house will donate 100 per cent of the proceeds to the Masina hospital in Mumbai, as well as Welfare of Stray Dogs, which is working to eradicate rabies and control the street-dog population in a humane, scientific way.

“The years 2020-21 have been catastrophic, with innumerable people and organisations being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We at Prinseps are doing our bit to help society through our upcoming auctions.

“We hope that these proceeds will brighten up the lives of the needy in the same way that they embellish the walls of their new owners,” said a statement quoting Prinseps director Brijeshwari Gohil.

Over the past year, the art world, like every other sector, has taken a big hit.

While big galleries and established artists managed to stay afloat, traditional artisans were pushed to the brink of devastation.

In March 2020, when India went under lockdown, galleries closed, auctions went completely online, and art fairs and festivals were postponed indefinitely. Just when things seem to be on their way back to normal, came the second wave of the pandemic in March, stronger and more powerful than the first.

People from all walks of life stepped forward to help in any which way they could. And so did the art fraternity.

May was a busy month with the fraternity organising several events — the Chitrakar relief sale, the Saffronart auction, one by DAG Gallery and another organised by the Vadehra Art Gallery.

The Chitrakar relief sale by the Baro market, an online marketplace bringing together artisans and designers, held an SOS fundraiser to support practitioners of traditional Indian art forms such as Pattachitra, Gond art and Gadwakam.

The auction was sold out in a few days, and the proceeds went to the craftspersons and students belonging to the various schools of art.

“In these unprecedented times, art has been the last priority in a world struggling to breathe. This in turn has adversely affected the makers of art – people whose heritage has come down generations – and which were threatened with extinction if we didn’t intervene immediately.

“The online sale was devised to provide some relief to both the artists and their communities,” the organisers said.

Delhi-based Vadehra Art Gallery and artist Shilpa Gupta reached out to art lovers and patrons, asking them to come forward and donate a “minimum of Rs 50,000” in lieu of a photograph titled ‘I want to live with no fear’ taken by Gupta.

The proceeds were donated to the MAA hospital in Mumbai’s Chembur area to arrange ICU beds, and to AADI, a foundation for children with disabilities dealing with the Covid crisis in Delhi, accordIng to VAG’s post on social media platform Instagram.

Other fundraisers hosted by the art fraternity over the last month include Saffronart’s ‘Art rises for India’ sale, and DAG’s Hope for Humanity’ sale.

A statement by Saffronart said its 24-hour online fundraiser auction held in the second half of May raised over Rs 2 crore, all of which went towards helping grassroots non-profit organisations, including Dastkar, FICA, Khoj and Street Survivors, working to provide medical support and daily subsistence to those in need.

The highlights of the sale included an untitled work by Amrita Sher Gil, a watercolour on paper by Ganesh Haloi, a 2015 oil on canvas by A Ramachandran, as well as significant works by Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, K G Subramanyan, Thota Vaikuntam and Sudhir Patwardhan.

The DAG sale that featured 51 works from the gallery collection raised an amount of Rs 1 crore that was donated to the Sood Charity Foundation, Khalsa Aid India and the Hemkunt Foundation, a gallery statement said.

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