It’s a riot of colours on the plain white walls – all imaginable shades of aqua, red, green, brown, yellow, grey, black. On one end, there’s the “Color of God,” on the other the “Essence of Life.” There’s “Spiritual Growth” on one side, while “Winter” comes alive in all its glory elsewhere. “The Dancer” is truly mesmerising even as “Etiquette Charm” draws one with, what else, its charm!
Walk into Art Mall, a unique art destination in Delhi, and it’s a sheer visual treat in all three floors of it, spread across a 15,000 sq. ft. Why is this gallery so unique? Because every year it gives hundreds of women artists whether they are closet artists, amateur artists, part-time artists or professionals looking for their big break. It is an opportunity to showcase their works for free.
The ‘Stree’ show, which is held every year in March, is truly a tribute to the Indian woman, her creativity and her spirit of enterprise. From Bangalore, Karnataka, in the south, to Guwahati, Assam, in the East, to the modest town of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh in the north, this show sees women from all corners of the country and from all walks of life sharing their art with the world. Of course, of the thousands of contributions that the Art Mall receives every year it’s only a selection that eventually makes it to the show.
They say an artist isn’t really an artist until someone has seen his work. For these unknown talented women it’s a real moment of glory when their painting is put up in one of the eight galleries that make up the Art Mall.
This year, it’s the fourth edition of the art show, the brainchild of gallery owner Illa Jain. The number of canvases on display, 361 works in all, has been a quantum leap forward in comparison to the 261 works that had cleared the selection process last year. The first edition had showcased only 61 works.
That the message of ‘Stree’ has spread far and wide has been evident from the number of foreign entries that made it to the show this year. Take Canadian-Indian artist Pragati Sharma, who had heard of this event “at the last minute”. Her entry had arrived almost fresh from the stands and its eventual selection proved to be a great morale booster for Sharma.
Today, the idea behind her establishing the Art Mall and conceptualising the show has indeed been fulfilled.
Though her empowerment agenda was foremost on the mind while establishing the Art Mall, Jain was also conscious that she needed to provide her visitors with a comfortable gallery experience so that they can fully enjoy the varied creativity on display. Incidentally, she had another goal as well – she wanted to bring fine arts to the doorstep of every regular Indian household. So, the location of Art Mall was a well-thought-out move.
And having seen all kinds of art work come her way over these last few years, does Jain see any change or progress in the way women are expressing themselves?
For Jain, what had once begun as a revival of a childhood passion for art, today, has become a mission. “Every artist whose works grace our walls is a messenger of love and creativity. I’m doing my bit and spreading this love around,” she says.