Following the Strokes

Despite scientific advancements, at difficult times we acknowledge the often-overlooked yet significant role that art plays in helping us understand, document and cope with uncertainty. The role of art vis-à-vis past endemics or the present pandemic is not different. While a scientific remedy is being sought, it is the arts in its many manifestations that is sustaining us through this period. Whether it was medieval Black Death, which claimed the lives of 200 million Europeans between 1347-1351, or the much recent Spanish flu of 1918, which by some estimations claimed 100 million lives, artists have always found a way to document their contemporary experience. Take for example the 14th century mural depicting Tournai Citizens Burying the Dead During the Black Death or the multiple Triumph of Death murals, where death is shown as a great equaliser in an otherwise hierarchical society.

In a sense the pestilence or the pandemic has proven to be a puzzle for every age that considered itself ‘modern and developed’ until of course it was presented with a deadly disease that eradicated a significant section of the population in a jiffy. If we read literary works, such as Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Albert Camus’s The Plague or Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, it is uncanny how they seem to reflect and respond to concerns and anxieties that are truly relatable, even in the 21st century. The human condition, despite scientific advancements, remains marked by human vulnerability, perhaps more starkly than ever before.

Pestilence always creates a prolonged pause in our daily lives, even threatens to disrupt life permanently with a premature end. With pessimism looming large, phases of panic setting in and fading out, the artist is often searching for hope, devising coping mechanisms, or simply confronting reality. A case in point could be Egon Schiele’s 1918 poignant portrait of his young family at the verge of succumbing to the Spanish flu, or Edvard Munch’s 1919 self-portrait as an ailing man that remains a chilling testament to his brush with death.

Kolkata Centre for Creativity invites you to be a part of our forthcoming exhibition, ‘Following the Strokes, Through Dark Times’, which invites artists to engage with some of these artworks and the ideas behind them. We encourage you to look at old masters who have captured the essence of living through a past endemic in their paintings, photographs, or even literary pieces. After selecting one such artwork (painting, photograph or writing) that most resonates with your own experience of the ongoing pandemic, we invite you to create an artwork in your chosen medium of expression. While submitting for consideration, you are required to send an image of your artwork along with an image of the artwork that inspired you (lines from a book, if it is a literary work). Besides these and a CV, you are also required to send us a brief concept-note that describes ways in which the existing artwork triggered you, and how it helped you to create your own pandemic related work.

-Images of the art works to be submitted in jpg format
-Image of the art work that inspired you
-Artist's view on the present situation relating to their artwork
-Brief bio of the artist along with contact details
- Size of the Art work (Near to 16 x 18 inch)
- Medium of the painting (Artist are free to use any medium as per their preference)
- The endemic-related painting, photograph or writing that inspired your artwork
- The artwork you created in your chosen medium
- Concept note that tells us about your engagement with the existing artwork, the present situation and how all of these come together in your own artwork (in 100 to 300 words, in Bengali, Hindi, English)

Submit at – submission.kcc@akst.org.in

WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL GET:  3 special certificate, 5 certificate of Merit, participation certificate to all.

SUBMISSION DATE: 1st to 10th November

SELECTION DATE: 11th to 12th November