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Art & Deal Correspondent

In September 2017, it was in the picturesque Rajasthani town of Chittorgarh that the fourth edition of Chitrashaala art residency an initiative by Justa Hotels, and brainchild of the hotelier Ashish Vohra and curator Anirudh Chari.

The idea for Chitrashaala came about in 2007 when the founder of Justa hotels and his wife, designer Deepika Govind, were looking for artworks to hang on the walls of the hotels. Initially their search led them to China where they sourced a lot of art for the hotels, which seemed like a cost effective and good idea until an art connoisseur and friend of the couple commented on how awful he thought the ‘third rate, replica’ art work was in the hotels. The same friend then introduced Mr. Vorah to the wealth of art culture in India as they visited places such as Kolkata, Shantiniketan and Chitrashaala School of art and built relationships with artists there. It was from this time onwards that Mr. Vorah decided that Justa would only purchase works of art which are signed and original, even if purchasing a graphic art work. This decision was not only an aesthetic investment, but a commercial one as well; an upcoming artist of a purchased piece may grow to be a master in decades to come, therefore they purchased from a cross section of artists. It was the decision to make art a central component of the hotels which gave way to the idea of organizing a residency.

The first residency was a small group of 10 artists which took place in Karnataka at the Turtle Bay Justa resort, and due to the outstanding feedback the decision was taken to up the ante to the next level with a larger, more universal, collective, inclusive approach to the residency.

It was decided that the residency would be an international, involving artists from overseas and from India, including the immediate area of Chittorghar (where the residency is currently held). Ashish Vorah and Deepika Govind teamed up with curator Anirudh Chari and artist Avijit Mukherjee to create the Chitrashaala residency as it exists today.

A fascinating aspect of this residency is the way the lexicon of art becomes more pronounced in the absence of a common first language. With individuals from all corners of the globe, part of the interaction and deeper understanding of one another’s work is heavily reliant on visual expression through the works of art.

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