Creative people impart their realization into others through their medium of expression. For instance at the dawn of civilization even before invention of scripts, man conveying his understanding by depicting their paintings on the cave walls with mastery of their highest standard. Altamira to Ajanta stands for example for this. This unbound urge of painting as a means of communication spread gradually and the artists felt a need for a showroom where their art work could be displayed for common people. Hence the concept of gallery came into existence. And gallery has thus become the most important dais to the artist for presentation of their creativity all world over.
But unfortunately Kolkata had no gallery during colonial period when only a few European and Indian art patrons came together and established the “Brush Club” in 1830. Initially as a part of their activity they had in mind to make arrangements for their exhibition . But as their was no gallery in Kolkata the paintings were showcased in historical Town Hall on 1st February 1831. “Brush Club” was the first of its kind in the city of Kolkata.
Later many art groups and societies in different times with various aims and objectives have cropped up but continued only for a short span of time, such as society for the improvement of original painting and sculpture, Calcutta Art Society (1889), The Indian Association for profession of fine arts and National gallery (1892), Bangiya Kala Sangsad (1905), Indian Academy of Art (1920), Young Artist Union (1931), Artist Rebel Centre (1933) and so on. Only exception was the Indian Society of Oriental Art Foundation in 1907 which has just completed hundred years of its glorious journey.
Besides art groups and societies many private art galleries have spread their wings since 1990 when commercial art market in West Bengal started exhilarating. At present there are more or less 35 commercial art galleries besides Academy of Fine Arts, Birla Academy of Art and Culture and Ashutosh Birth Centenary Hall of Indian Museum managed by Government of India. Amongst recent emerging galleries Aakriti Art Gallery founded in October 2005 is the most prominent for its vibrant and outstanding art activities. During its short journey it has presented its viewers with some notable thought provoking solo and group shows.
Amongst the one man show held by the gallery, the birth centenary retrospective exhibition of Gobordhan Ash and Kartick Chandra Pyne were remarkable. Senior painter Kartick Chandra Pyne although continuously engaged in painting since the beginning of his artistic career, could not get the appropriate opportunity to exhibit his works in a proper platform till Aakriti Art Gallery mounted a big show of his works which was highly acclaimed. The names of two other artists worth mentioning are Partha Pratim Deb and P. R. Narvekar who inspite of doing aesthetically elegant art works were not recognized. However, their art attracted the attention of Mr. Vikram Bachhawat, the Director of Aakriti Gallery and art connoisseur put up an exhibition of their works. Their paintings received appreciation.
Group shows initiated by gallery are always theme based revealing a varied range of contemporary styles and subject matters. Most of the well conceived exhibition was curated by the eminent artists, art critics and art historians. Amongst the curated shows, on their own, Indigenous Modernity- various trends, Landscapes of Bengal, Freedom: What it means to me, Young Contemporaries, Indian Surrealism, Endangered Earth are deeply thoughtful and worthy.
As we know, in the field of visual art, India is widely known for its magnificent sculptures and till today many sculptors of the country have produced excellent sculptures. But unfortunately the sculpture shows are few and far in between compared to painting exhibition. And for obvious reasons most of the art galleries prefer to stage painting shows for its increasing commercial viability, making the scope for sculpture display even more limited. In this modern sculpture gallery in the same premises adjacent to the painting show room. The same venue subsequently held the one man sculpture show of Gopal Prasad Mondal, Niranjan Pradhan, Subrata Biswas and group shows successfully.
In recent times many art enterprise bring together the creation of renowned painters and sculptors under one roof keeping eyes on sales. As a result of which opportunities to the young generation has become limited. At this juncture Aakriti Art Gallery has put lot of emphasis on promoting young generation artists and their projects get carefully monitored on a regular basis. Every year they organized shows featuring young talented artists' works on selective basis under the title “GenNext” which has becoming widely popular. This encouragement motivated many blooming artists to stand in good stead and establish themselves. It is reported that this year entries are registered across the country as well as from abroad. It has been truly an exciting response to Aakriti endeavour.
Another attractive part of Aakriti's function is publication of beautiful catalogues on the eve of every exhibition containing analytical text, related information alongwith good prints of the exhibits.
As we all know a commercial art gallery cannot survive without earning profit like any other business house. Keeping this idea in mind Vikram Bachhawat started exploring for a handful of conscious onlookers and prospective buyers, which resulted in a high flown art promotion. Their other vital movement in this regard is the tie up with the Emami Group and Chisel Craft, the parent body of Aakriti Art Gallery, which came into existence as Emami Chisel Art Pvt. Ltd. arranged an art auction which received overwhelming response. Later it also performed a series of art oriented programme and saw lot of success.
My working experience with this gallery is not only satisfactory but also enjoyable. Fortunately on invitation from Vikram Bachhawat I had the privilege of curating their two group shows. During my venture I have received enormous support from them in every step. The infrastructure provided has also allowed me to do my work with full freedom.
I have expressed here only a brief account of this gallery and its performances. However, in last three years in their short and eventful journey Aakriti Art Gallery has already achieved their goal and further continue to walk a long way to a brighter future.