Traditionally, art is thought of as a serious business. However, moving away from the idea, Hyderabad’s well-known Shrishti Art Gallery hosted an art exhibition titled ‘Licence to Laugh’, on March 13, at their premises. Celebrating the gallery’s 19th anniversary, the exhibition featured seven artists from across the country.
Restricting the event to only a few invitees, the exhibition saw a host of artworks, which made the audience smile, or even laugh, take the centre stage. “This idea came to me some three years ago,” shares Lakshmi Nambiar, founder of Shrishti Art Gallery, adding, “Art is a form of expression, and yet people mostly expect it to be a tool to raise serious issues. I wanted to do a show that was light and made people smile.” The artists’ styles referenced popular culture and outsider art, including visual vocabularies of comics, cartoons, animation, graffiti and posters, as well as legacies of domestic aesthetics, bazaar art and games. The exhibition explored the scope of these graphic languages and compositional frameworks that lend themselves to the expression of multilayered narratives.
In an art space scattered with beautiful and bold pieces of works, a few stood out and captured the imagination of several visitors.
One of Chitra Ganesh’s artwork, Dakini Eclipse, which was on display at the event was appreciated by many, including Lakshmi. In the painting, a pair of observers can be seen wearing a protective eyewear for watching spirits dance across a phantasmagorical sky. In fact, Lakshmi shares that Chitra’s art piece could only be displayed due to the pandemic. “Or else they were supposed to be back in New York,” she explains.
Another piece of art which caught several people’s attention was Gurjeet Singh’s sculptures. Narrating a tender love story through his sculptures, Singh’s works are part of a series that explores and shares hidden fantasies, happening behind closed doors. “The narrative of the story is about a boy named ‘Kirat’ who recalls a crush of his past days. He falls in love with the conductor of the bus he takes to work every day. But he is too afraid to express his feelings. One day he gets a mail that he is being transferred to another city, and realises that he will never be able to tell the man how much he loved him,” shares Singh.
The event was attended by several dignitaries and celebrities, including actor Rakul Preet Singh and Principal Secretary of the Industries & Commerce (I&C) and Information Technology (IT) Departments of the Telangana government, Jayesh Ranjan. Comedian Vivek Muralidharan tickled the funny bone of the audience. Overall, ‘License to Laugh’ was about giving ourselves the chance to be light-hearted and irreverent without fear, and embracing humour in all its forms.