Bengalureans’ love for art, especially paintings and sculptures, goes back a long way. But the pandemic and subsequent lockdown were a big blow to the numerous art shows and seminars. With the brakes on physical shows and gallery sales leaving many creators in dismay, the scene has shifted online and opened up new avenues for artists and curators.
Nalini S Malaviya, a Bengaluru-based art curator and consultant, describes the post-lockdown art scene as “a new dawn”. “While physical presence in art galleries has been restricted and events cut down completely, the pandemic has given rise to online platforms,” she added.
Malaviya had planned an art exhibition in November with three accomplished women artists from Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai, but she has been forced to cancel the event. “I floated the exhibition through my blog which had been dormant for a while. The show, much to my surprise, gave it fresh life and within 24 hours, 700 people had viewed it, many more than a physical show. We’ve done well with our maiden online venture,” she said.
Low footfall, reduced price tag
Another fallout has been prices of artworks dipping quite a bit. “We’re seeing bargaining in the art scene with even a few top artists having to reduce prices. It’s unfortunate to see this in an art-appreciating city like Bengaluru,” rues Rajini Rekha, an artist with 15 years of experience and runs Reves Art Gallery in Bengaluru since 2015.
Covid norms have forced most galleries to invite people as per appointment only. Sources say some artists have started directly approaching clients as sales are hard to come by. But artists and curators like Rekha believe the art scene will bounce back in Bengaluru, thanks to a large section of people who support good art and creativity.
Premilla Baid, the owner of Gallery Sumukha, said business is good despite moving out of physical spaces to the internet. “We are not doing shows at the gallery as a precautionary measure but our online presence has got good response. We’re not like an e-commerce venture and art lovers have reached out to us online. We have arranged gallery visits only with the prior appointment by following all Covid protocols,” Baid added.
Most curators say the pandemic has opened up more online avenues where physical boundaries have been limiting. People have now started to invest in online platforms for the promotion and sale of art like never before. And this has provided access beyond Bengaluru, bringing new audiences to local artists and curators alike. It now appears online ventures are here to stay post-lockdown, even when the situation returns to normal.