Who hasn't heard of wall, street or even rickshaw art? Balti (bucket) art is in a different league altogether. In a first of its kind endeavour in India, the Delhi-based Kala Care groupArtists for Better World, displayed the works of 35 artists, who have used the ubiquitous bucket as their canvas.
The five-day “Balti Blast”, an effective art show, concluded recently. The exhibition was held to coincide with World Water Day on March 22.
The 31 buckets tell their own storyeven if they sometimes convey truisms. Manish Kumar, artist and senior designer with CNN IBN, has finely embellished his bucket with human forms, an embryo, a mushroom, taps, hand pumps, tube-wells, clouds and living creatures like penguins and birds. “We on earth are wasting precious water resources and eyeing the moon and Mars to meet our water requirements. The truth is that with proper water conservation, we do not need to look elsewhere,” he says.
In another eye catching bucket, artist Amrendra Maharana depicts many taps sprouting from a human head. There are also motifs like a child, fish, tortoise, a man and a toothbrush. Explaining the toothbrush, Maharana says that each of us has an “inner child” and emulating children may just leave taps open while brushing our teeth.
In his work, renowned artist Jai Zharotia, the guiding force behind Kala Care and former head of the Department of MFA (Painting) at the Delhi College of Art, makes the point that living creatures and entire cities have no future without water. “ All artists have a social conscience,” asserts Zharotia, about his art.
The works of several other artists too catch the viewer's attention. There's Priyendra Shukla's bucket with plastic taps that give the illusion of metal in their colour and texture. On her “canvas”, Babita Biswas shows that entire life forms could be wiped out without water while Ruchika Wasan Singh does not impart an “intellectual” tone to her art work but still manages to show that water is the “life sap because it enriches every aspect of our lives.” A green umbilical chord painted on the bucket reinforces that message.
The exhibition is a first for the Kala Care group which intends to extend its social and environmental horizons to theatre, music and dance. Says Shweta Zharotia, founder of the group, “We started Kala Care a few months ago with the vision that art should not be confined only to beautifying our homes but play an important role in creating awareness about important issues.”
The exhibition has caught the interest of both the layman, higher government officials from the Water Ministry and even UNESCO. The event was inaugurated by A.K. Bajaj, chairman of the Water Commission.