Under a spotless sky on a small Deccan hilltop, Rashid Khan sang raga Yaman in open air, effectively symbolising the romance of the wintry night in Hyderabad. The half-moon up had repositioned itself by when the ustad’s concert wound up an hour before midnight at the manicured venue of the ongoing Krishnakriti Art and Culture Festival in the Pearl City.
People of all ages and several walks of life, clad in woollens, warmed up to the 110-minute Hindustani classical recital by the middle-aged maestro, who the iconic Pt Bhimsen Joshi had famously described would be his successor going by artistic eminence. From a soothing alaap that preceded the slow khayal composition with accompaniment from sarangi, tabla and harmonium, the 50-year-old exponent of the Rampur-Sahaswan school later strung together four smaller songs, starting with Beet Jaate in popular raga Desh.
The concert at Rock Heights—one of the seven locations of the 14th edition of the four-day festival being organised by Telangana Tourism—was preceded by an hour-long choreographic piece by Maude and Co led by a Kathak practitioner from France. Titled ‘Dance of the Peacock’, the show led by the young European, also given the name Manjushree Pradhan, saw the stage being shared by actor-dancer Rajiv Sohore besides a small team of musician-instrumentalists.
In another part of the city, Valsan Koorma Kolleri’s two-floor tall vertical installation stemming from the central courtyard of a rounded building went on to attract visitors’ curiosity. The 63-year-old’s latest work, now on display at the Chitramayee State Art Gallery, typifies the free spirit of the Kerala-born visual artist who did his advanced art studies from France (ENSBA, Paris) and Gujarat (MS University, Baroda) and has worked with various mediums.
“I got just three days to put up my work. It was anyway site-specific, I knew—so I did have some idea of the shape,” says the globe-trotting artiste, who otherwise lives in his native Pattiam village of Kannur district in north Malabar. “The canes and bamboo-poles used here are local. I have named my installation ‘Hiccups of the Earth’,” he adds, with an impish smile, pointing to the star-shaped blackish-blue water-body that works as a reflector of the installation.
“The art of tying the knots with rope is no joke. It has to be done very aesthetically; my team has managed it,” he shrugs. “The other day, somebody keen to click a picture of the work went so close to it that he fell into the pond with the camera. Be careful.”
The weakening closeness to nature in a tech-driven era becomes the focal theme in another work upstairs, where Delhiite Mukesh Sharma has put up an installation named Botanic Monomania.” My current display work is an attempt to create a synthesis of my experiences of technology with my surroundings those of my past with those of my present,” notes the 42-year-old artist who was raised in Doroli off Alwar in eastern Rajasthan, referring also to his newest work, which is a collection of nine junk computer monitors with severed tops from where sprout money plants.
The work, which is part of a section titled ‘Existential’ and curated by critic-columnist Georgina Maddox, extends into an illustration and manual of how to make a planter out of junk monitors, according to the artiste, who did his MA from MS varsity. “It forces us to think about recycling the non-biodegradable and the environmental hazards we live in. Also my aesthetics with the junk and the organic redefines the objects we see every day and also beyond being readymade,” he adds.
Points out Krishnakriti Foundation head Prshant Lahoti: “The festival has all been about various aspects of culture. This time, though, the core is art.”
On the weekend day, Rajasthani puppetry, too, made it to a workshop at the festival hosted by the 2003-founded Krishnakriti Foundation that works for the promotion of arts across the spectrum of culture. The two-hour session saw more than a dozen participants—mostly children—trying their flair in making traditional puppets under the instruction of expert Jagdish Bhatt and his family.
An art talk, also at Chitramayee State Art Gallery, on ‘Foreign Missions Promoting Contemporary Indian Art was addressed by four speakers—two of them European. The hall also screened a movie ‘Desiring The City’ (directed by Oindrila Duttagupta) that unveils the cravings of young urban women, followed by a talk on the 16-minute work. There was also a slides-aided presentation of works by performance artist Beatrice Didier and an interaction with the 45-year-old Belgian.