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58th National Exhibition of Art by the LALIT KALA AKADEMI
Subhra Mazumdar

This Oscar among art events that is ongoing for the 58th time leaves behind a trail of after episodes through the ten- day long Art Conclave that begins a day after the gala opening of the National Exhibition. As the array of woodcuts to paintings, from installations to photo montages, and etchings to mixed media, the stellar works become the personal outpourings of its makers. The artists of these works participate in an Art Conclave where they speak to the art gathering about their creative processes, sharing their experiences on a one-to-one basis, in a rare display of camaraderie.

A favorable comparison between a National Academy of Art and the Titan Atlas, who mythically was condemned to carry the sky on his shoulders, the burden of exposing the emerging art talent of a country, rests squarely in its hands. In fulfillment of this role, the Lalit Kala Akademi, the National Academy of Art in India, fields in an annual National Exhibition of Art, a competitive platform which invites artists above eighteen to participate and appoints a two tier jury system drawn from the top echelons of the art practices to adjudicate on the merit of the submitted works. The handful of winners of the National Exhibition, then produce works that are part of the Academy’s prestigious art collection, even while these makers, through the passage of years, rise to become some of the beacons of Indian art, in their life.

Such has been the career graph of artists like M F Husain, whose first- ever award in life was given by the Lalit Kala Akademi during the First National Exhibition of Art held by the Lalit Kala Akademi. Thereafter, the endless list of winners culled across 58 showings of this annual event, have proved the point that the National Exhibition of the LKA reverberates the future trends of our art, through the astute findings made by its jury panel, at the time of their participation and subsequent winning on the platform of the National Exhibition. And this time round, with their task completed, the Jury have crowned fifteen artistic heads with the mythical laurel wreathe of the National Award while their works, along with 111 works that were selected by the First –Tier Jury, adorn the walls of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, at a month-long exhibition.

Down the years, the National Exhibition of Art has garnered around itself a host of traditions. One of the most prestigious of them is the customary distribution of the National Awards to the winning artists by the Governor or Chief minister of the state where the exhibition is being held, doing the honours. Thus protocol and prestige are given due regard through this customary publicity. Speaking on the current occasion of the 58th National Exhibition, Shri Vajubhai Rudabhai Valu, Honorable Governor of Karnataka noted: ‘Being the outcome of a conglomerate of the most creative minds of the times, your art is a re-telling of the many faceted artistic and emotive states of the nation’s mind. It goes without saying that through your artwork you have deciphered the perfect tool to express that palpable Young India coursing through the veins of this nation at this moment.’

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