This virtual art show unites 24 Indian artists in support of Cancer Patients Aid Association

Mumbai’s popular ‘Colours of Life’, which has been virtual since 2020, features a visual narrative with the theme: Art Brings Hope

Colours of Life – Art Brings Hope, a virtual art exhibition-cum-sale to support the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) showcases an eclectic mix of colours, textures and themes by 24 artists from across the country. The 48 works on canvases provide creative insights into a visual narrative.

“The pandemic has caused devastating interruptions in the treatment for scores of cancer patients. Proceeds from this exhibition aim to provide them with continued assistance. The current situation keeps most of us homebound; we hope these paintings can provide visual respite, coupled with a sense of goodwill,” shares Shubha Maudgal of CPAA.

Art that spreads cheer and is lucid takes centre stage at the exhibition. “During these gloomy times, it is refreshing to see work that pulsates with life,” says Kolkata-based Sunirmal Maiti whose two works (of 24×20 inches and 13×16 inches) focus on facial expressions with Nature in the background. Having studied art in Santiniketan and Baroda, Sunirmal’s drawings on COVID-19 are work in progress. “The drawings are incomplete as there is a tendency to become illustrative while working on a contemporary issue,” he says.

Sunirmal’s technique involves painting thin layers of acrylics on canvas. “People often mistake it to be tempera art,” he adds.

From mythology to Baul art, artistes have explored different themes to create their own stories. Nagpur-based Raghu Neware’s canvases draw inspiration from the simplicity of the terrain he grew up in. His ‘My works – Search of Eternity’ are based on the emotions triggered by physical locations. “I try to paint those emotions,” he says, giving an example of his memories of Tadoba forest near Nawargaon village. “I once spent hours observing the houses of the village from a nearby lake. I painted the landscape and whenever I look at the canvas, I feel relaxed as it reminds me of my six-year stay there.” Raghu has been exploring Nature for seven years now. “The elements of Nature change every year,” he explains.

‘Soul-satisfying work’

The Colours of Life exhibition has been an annual affair in the Cymroza gallery in Mumbai since 2005. “Cancer medicines had become more expensive and we had to look at different avenues to raise funds,” informs Shubha on how the art platform came about. Cymroza gallery founder Pheroza Godrej and senior artists, Gogi Saroj Pal and Ved Nayar were motivated to start the ‘Colours of Life’ initiative by Bengaluru CPAA director Sarla Kohli who died of lung cancer. The exhibition has been named in her honour.

The virtual exhibition began in 2020 with 136 artists showcasing around 294 artworks. “Artists felt small exhibitions have a better impact during a virtual viewing,” says Shubha. Based on the feedback, the schedule has been altered to host solo and group show on alternate months.

“CPAA work has been soul-satisfying,” says Shubha, a doctorate from IIT Bombay who worked for 15 years at NASA, DRDO and Johnson & Johnson. When her mother passed away due to breast cancer, she engaged with the platform and has since researched on the psycho-social issues of cancer — how it affects patients, their families and siblings — presented papers, conducted workshops and now holds webinars to share experiences.

For Delhi-based artist Kumar Vikas Saxena, Nature is a predominant theme; a female figure depicts ‘swabhava: the real Nature.’ “The pandemic made us realise the importance of conserving the natural world,” says the artist who has used gold on a dark background. He adds, “Gold signifies hope and light, to lead us through these tough days.”

Kumar has finished 12 works in the series till now. “I took 25 days to finish one work. Every day we get to hear of someone passing away among our friends and relatives. It is impossible to be undisturbed in the current scenario,” says the artist who also writes poetry to express his anger. “Keeping a positive mindset is tough but as a creative person I am using art to help others heal.”

There are also works by Jaipur-based Prabhu Dayal Verma, on Radha Krishna and Buddha, on vintage stamp paper. The artist advocates preserving indigenous culture and tradition. “Intricate detailing is the uniqueness of these works,” says Raghu, who also designs handicrafts.

Kolkata-based Sekhar Roy plays an ode to West Bengal’s Baul folk music as part of his recent series. He says, “I have been listening to Baul since I was a child. My uncle is a Baul singer who has travelled across the US, France and Bangladesh rendering this folk music.”

The display creates a visual treat and has something for everyone.

The Colours of Life exhibition can be viewed at cancer.org.in

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