An exhibition, Lockdown Diaries, which opened at the Government Museum and Art Gallery on the 54th day of Chandigarh’s founding, draws on artists’ experiences during the pandemic period. 80 artists and their drawings tell the hard ordeal that humans have gone through.
“This project brought our small community of Kaladham together, the opposite of what the virus wanted to do,” says renowned visual artist Anita Dube. The idea for a Pandemic Screen Printing Workshop was conceptualized at Kaladham Artist Studios, Greater Noida, by a small group of artists, Tejinder Kanda, Prashant Kalita, Avinash Aggarwal and Dattatreya Apte, as a tribute to the artist Ravinder Verma.
“At the start of the pandemic, we worked together with masks,” says Dube. He gave the introduction and there was a presentation by the eminent engravers Dattatraya Apte and Ananda Moy Banerji. From November 17 to 19, 2020, because 80 works by artists are part of the exhibition. Some of the notable artists whose works can be seen are Ranbir Kaleka, Anita Dube, Arpana Caur, Ved Nayar, Prem Singh, Rajeev Lochan, Ravinder Reddy, Jai Zharotia, Gogi Saroj Pal, Shail Choyal and Viren Tanwar.
“The exhibition will provide a unique opportunity for the people of Chandigarh to witness the full production of the workshop and interact with some of the acclaimed artists whose works are on display,” said Vishal Bhatnagar, curator of the exhibition at the Government Museum and Art Gallery. He sees the period of the pandemic as both a blessing and a curse. The first, as the confinement left time to complete the pending work, cursed because locked up at home far from his workshop and his materials, he was struggling.
Among the works on display are glimpses of the pandemic era such as The Mask Dance by Nidhi Agarwal and Reflections by Dattatreya Apte. Shiven Tanwar’s Oh Jesus and Tejinder Kanda’s The Journey Goes On bear the imprint of modern times. Coco by Uday Mondal brings a smile to the face, like a dog and its owner walking together. Anita Dube’s Freedom Song, Arpana Caur’s Farwell Friend, Prem Singh’s Weeping Willow and Paramjeet Singh’s She have their share of viewers, engrossed in decoding their visual inputs. Unfortunately, for artists like Jai Zharotia and Aditi Chakravarty, this was their last diary entry.
(On at Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, until 20 May 2022; closed Mondays)