Stressing that at the moment, contemporary art seems to have become a source of entertainment for a select few, the founder of Museum of Goa (MOG) in the coastal state, Subodh Kerkar, who started the space with the objective of taking art to the masses, adds, "Through the museum, I wanted to break all cultural barriers. Let’s not forget that art has many functions including diminishing differences."
With the relaunching of the Goa Affordable Art Fest (GAAF), Bangalore Edition (re-curated by Kerkar), by RMZ Foundation in collaboration with MOG post the lockdown related hiatus, which received a response from around 2,000 artists, out of whom 900 were selected, the artist and curator feels that it will not only provide a platform to artists from the remotest part of the country, but also bring excellent art to the buyer.
"While most artists do not get an opportunity to showcase their works, it is also true that there [are] many people, who can afford art, but do not have an eye for it. This is a fest that aims to bridge that gap."
This Goa-based painter, sculptor and installation artist, a strong advocate of art in public spaces, laments that despite the country boasting of some of the finest artists, it is not uncommon to find vague works scattered around. "The people who are supposed to choose the work have no idea about what should be put up. That is why we have some ridiculous examples of public art in this country like, the Eiffel tower in Surat. This happens only because the authorities—the secretaries or the ministers—are just not qualified to choose. I think post the Vijayanagar 'samrajya' or Hampi, public art of substance has not been created in India."
Stressing on the need to establish more research museums, run by specialists and not bureaucrats, Kerkar feels that it is imperative that they be made more interactive, with programming that involves and invites people across the spectrum. "Right now, most government-run museums look like godowns of art. Absolutely no attention is paid to the way art should be displayed. People who run them should realize that it is not a vegetable market where you can put anything anywhere."
Despite spending most of his time and energy on the museum, the artist ensures that he takes out some space for his own work. "Yes, I do find enough time to create art. The lockdown period has especially been fertile. I've created more work during the last three months than what I normally do in two years."
Though over the past few years, Goa has hosted several art festivals, Kerkar feels that there is a need for more, not just in the state but across the country. "Kochi-Muziris Biennale is a perfect example of democratization of art. A place which has broken down all barriers by being accessible to everyone—from a fisherwoman to the highly qualified—everyone feels invited. What we need are events like these, not just in Goa, but across the country.".