Despite closure of World Citizen Artists (WCA) in December last year, the organization continues its work of empowering the artist community the world over. The WCA is a pioneering global community of socially engaged artists, creatives, and thinkers whose aim was to create effective and evolutionary change in the world by raising awareness on social and humanitarian issues through arts, music, and education. WCA initially started as a passion project by artist and social activist Valerie Won Lee in her 38m2 apartment in Paris in 2014, and rapidly attracted the attention of socially engaged artists and non-profits. It was also the first inclusive organization to launch online global awards that brought together well-known and emerging artists from all over the world, whether it was exhibiting Belgravia Gallery in the UK (they have collections of Nelson Mandela to His Majesty King Charles III and Andy Warhol etc) to having peace concert at Bataclan in Paris or the Bob Marley Birthday Museum in Jamaica in partnership with Bob Marley Foundation. In UK too, Valerie organized the ‘Solidarity For All’ art and music awards during lockdowns, a student-led global event on climate change during COP 26, and various peace campaigns. Since ceasing its activities, Valerie has been spreading the WCA legacy through public speaking engagements in communities and schools. “I want to take the time to reflect on the direction the world is taking and consider opportunities that align with my passions and values. For now, I will follow the approach that Gandhi took: observe, learn, and gain experiences before making any decisions on my next steps – while keeping an open mind,” she cites.
DOPAMINE ON CANVAS
Mumbai Artist Jenny Bhatt’s latest artworks on display revolve around the Pursuit of Happiness (Moksha) and uses humour to comment on social and cultural practices. Her influences include pop culture, eastern philosophy. The artist calls her work MokshaShots. “In eastern philosophy, ‘Moksha’ means salvation or Nirvana. Considering our current lifestyles, we probably won’t get to Moksha, but can get a shot of it,” she says. The series titled ‘Digital Dopamine’ explores what constitutes happiness and how we define it. “We confuse happiness with that dopamine shot we get from validation on social media. We are programmed to measure our self-worth by the number of casual interactions on the internet. We seem to have forgotten how to define our happiness without comparing it with others,” says Jenny further adds that the series consists of two types of works, namely MindMaps and Cosmograms. “MindMaps explore our subconscious minds via memory, nostalgia, self-perception and the spiritual search. Traditionally, Cosmograms were used as energy engineering devices, to balance and harmonise energies of the body and the environment. This is my humorous take on the symbols and emblems contemporary urban culture uses, to manipulate their mental and environmental spaces. Our happiness is now digitally induced. Our objects of contemplation have changed to these modern Cosmograms and our minds dwell on digital symbols, icons and experiences. Digital Dopamine has become our path to Moksha,” she points out. The exhibition is on at Gallery Art and Soul.
THE SOLITARY PURSUIT OF SUHAS ROY
Late master painter Suhas Roy’s exhibition of paintings currently on display at Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery are a treat. Roy who trained himself in Paris and Florence and taught at Shantiniketan and at Kolkata’s Government College of Art for many years, passed away in 2016. His daughter Swati has displayed 54 of the painter’s works including the iconic Radha series. ESSENCE OF LIFE Veteran artist Kishor Nadavdekar exhibition ‘Essence of Life’ highlights various aspects of Indian people and the landscapes they belong to through his paintings. The artist showcases rural life and people living in those surroundings in his art. The exhibition is on at Jehangir Art Gallery till January 23.