The ASEAN Artists’ Camp brought together 20 Asian artists amidst the backdrop of the stunning Taj Aravali Resort & Spa, Udaipur, for 10 days of creativity. We spoke to some of the Indian and international creators on their experience of coming together post-pandemic, spending 10 days in the White City and letting creativity flow through them – just like the camp’s theme, Oceans of Connectivity. By Anushka Goel
Udaipur is but a dream city to be in. The White City, as it is also called, is complete with magnificent palaces and havelis with exquisite art work. The views and the vibe of this culturally rich city, also called the City of Lakes, lends itself beautifully to creators looking for inspiration. And artists at the ASEAN Artists’ Camp 2022 made sure they took in a lot of this culture as they spent over a week in the city, letting their brushes and pens speak their words.
About the ASEAN Artists’ Camp
The camp was a nine-day event, with about 20 participating artists from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam. The event, organised in association the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Seher, was a celebration of 30 years of the ASEAN-India relations.
Minister of State for External Affairs and Education Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh was present at the closing ceremony. Addressing the gathering, he said, “India and ASEAN share a strong historical and cultural connect and these historical linkages have led to the development of bonds of family and kinship between us. As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Relations as ASEAN-India Friendship Year, I am confident that the camp would have proved to be an excellent platform to promote friendship between the artists from India and ASEAN.”
Talking to us, Sanjeev Bhargava, the Founder-Director of Seher, explained how the theme was set for the year. “The idea was to understand how creative people can bring nations together. Oceans of Connectivity was the theme given to the artists, because oceans connect each other and they are also the borders. They are also routes for maritime trade, and hence the theme was something the artists would interpret in their own style.” He added, “This camp is also like an ocean flowing from one day to another.”
Across the nine days, artists also participated in workshops on art forms such as Kathak (which I was able to witness) and Jamini Roy’s paintings. The artists also visited the main city and explored its various elements, to get a feel of the city and a small but vibrant part of India. This is not all – the camp also collaborated with the transgender community to paint the Gulab Bagh wall, and give back to the city.
Meet the artists
- Sonika Agarwal
- Japani Shyam
- Nupur Kundu
- Laishram Meena Devi
- Anjum Khan
- Nin Taneja
- Vanita Gupta
- Yogendra Tripathi
- Mayur Kailash Gupta
- Dileep Sharma
- Basant Bhargav
- Somreth Keo – Cambodia
- Eddy Sulistyo – Indonesia
- Melissa Abuga – The Philippines
- Aye Myat Soe – Myanmar
- Nabil Fikri Bin Haronli – Brunei Darussalam
- Sone Khounpaseuth – Lao PDR
- Edroger Rosili – Malaysia
- Nguyen Phuong Linh – Vietnam
- Phattaraporn Leanpanit – Thailand
Oceans of Connectivity
Participating artists were asked to paint on the theme of ‘Oceans of Connectivity’, and the paintings that I saw during the closing ceremony showed me how different people interpret the same situation (or theme) differently. From porcelain vases on canvas to using the Rajasthani traditional dance, Ghoomar, and the cosmic energy, togetherness was showcased across these pieces of art in ways unique to the artist.
Talking about her piece, Melissa told us, “I was very interested in Ghoomar, and I put it in my work. I connected it with water, showing how the dance is more like a wave. There’s a transcendence happening every time there’s persistence in the wave, and this is what I wanted to depict.” Her painting also used a piece of cloth – a leheriya fabric – as well as several mirrors.
Nupur Kundu, an artist based out of Delhi, spoke to us about her work and the entire experience she had at the camp. She said, “I met all these different artists. Each one has a different style. If you want to learn and experience the art, you see how the artist has lived within the times. It has so much to do with the artists themselves, and the interactions and activities here at the camp truly made it ‘Art from the Heart.” Nupur’s style is more abstract, and she said that she feels a different kind of freedom and liberation when she touches her paint brush to her canvas. “There’s no one telling me anything here,” she said, adding that this is what her painting on the theme depicted.
During the interaction with the artists, they all told us how the experience for them was a personal, learning experience – not just about cultures, but also acceptance. Adding to this was the understanding that there are similarities within the ASEAN nations and their local cultures. This is something that Phattaraporn depicted through his painting. His piece was the painting of a porcelain vase, from which emerged various Indian patterns, including the lotus and ambi. The use of colours such as blue represented the ocean, and the moon depicted togetherness.
A few paintings that caught my eye was Dileep’s piece on the modern man, and Japani’s representation of a traditional lore through her Gond painting. Dileep told us, “The painting depicts the modern man, who is highly influenced by Shiva. Shiva depicts culture, and ASEAN for me is an extended colony of this culture. The monkeys in the painting are reminiscent of my time in Cambodia, and it represents the society in general.” Japani, talking about her Gond painting, said that she has depicted the story of nature and its creation, interpreting the theme of Oceans of Connectivity.
The event concluded with a closing ceremony and an exhibition of the paintings, truly celebrating togetherness. The artworks spoke to my soul, and have left me with lasting memories.
Hero Image: Courtesy of Anushka Goel; Featured Image: Courtesy of ASEAN Artists’ Camp