Differently-abled persons display art works at national-level exhibition in Bengaluru

By blending geometric accuracy and textile design, 29-year-old Arpan Kumar defines modern art with his own personal touch. His pastel painting is among the 105 displays that stands tall at the national-level arts exhibition organized by NIMHANS at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (KCP).

Arpan Kumar suffers from a mental disorder. A student of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Arpan found his sense of calm in shaping geometric designs. His painting drew attention for accurate measurements in modern art style.

On the side of the gallery stood a frame of an elegant peacock, which attracted a bid of ₹28,000, the highest in the exhibition. The artist is Pooja, an 18-year-old with a mental disorder.

Communicating through art

The Departments of Psychiatric Social Work, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and Mental Health Education at NIMHANS in Bengaluru, along with the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwD), Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, organized the national-level art workshops for PwDs followed by the exhibition.

From self-portraits to reminiscing about their childhood, to etching their first rise in the metro train, to pushing the boundaries by redefining the rule book of art; 47 specially-abled persons came together to express their ideas, emotions and experiences as they painted their minds out.

“With the help of art mentors and YouTube videos, I kept exploring new forms of painting as I am able to express myself better through colours,” said Jijo Das, an artist and illustrator diagnosed with Down Syndrome. “Art has been very therapeutic for me. I feel more at ease when I paint,” he said.

People from eight States from across India are participating in this exhibition. All the participants of the art workshops, which were conducted during July and October, were guided by eminent faculty from KCP’s College of Fine Arts.

Aarti Jagannathan, Additional Professor of Psychiatric Social Work at NIMHANS, who is the principal coordinator of the initiative, said, “Art has a unique feature of helping the artist transmit a part of himself, his emotions on to his work, thereby being therapeutic. Apart from this, art can also act as a medium of employment.”

“This exhibition-cum-sale of paintings made by PwDs is a first of its kind step to showcase the talent of PwDs , and also a medium for their empowerment. The exhibition will help reduce the stigma associated with PwDs by highlighting their creativity and skills. It will also provide an opportunity to these participants to display their work before a large audience,” she said.

The participants include those with mental illness, intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, neurological disorders and multiple disabilities. The exhibition was inaugurated by KS Lathakumari, Director, Department for the Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens. It will culminate on December 3, on the occasion of International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

The exhibition will be held at KCP for the first week (till November 27). In the second week, It will shift to NIMHANS (from November 28).

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