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Automobile art in India gets extra mileage, with Cartist Yatra, a travelling exhibition

Automobile art, as a genre, has remained relatively unexplored in India — with few exceptions, like artist MF Husain, who drove around his flashy, painted car. It became popular in the US in the 1960s, and artists like Jackie Harris, David Best, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol are among those who've created iconic car art. Cartist, a Jaipur-based initiative, has been holding automobile art workshops and exhibitions since 2015, to promote the form. Cartist is now taking an exhibition of painted cars, auto rickshaws and two-wheelers on the road, covering approximately 9,100 km across the country. Commencing on 4 November 2017, the Cartist Yatra will travel from Jaipur through select Indian cities. Part of the caravan will be two shipping containers carrying paintings, scooters, car art installations, sculptures, artefacts, art supplies etc. By the time the Yatra reaches the Auto Expo in Delhi, it would have spent 120 days on the road.

Cartist Yatra will take painted cars on the road, covering over 9,100 km

Cartist Yatra will take painted cars on the road, covering over 9,100 km

The Yatra plans to make weekend halts at each identified location (including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh and New Delhi) and then return to Jaipur, where it will culminate in the annual Cartist Automobile Art Festival — an annual affair in the Pink City since 2015. The automobile art promoters who are undertaking the tour will engage with the local artist fraternity at their pit-stops — senior and young artists alike, art students and aficionados — in order to better acquaint them with the concept of art on wheels. Well known artists like Atul Dodiya, Seema Kohli, Kanchan Chander, Veer Munshi, who have been associated with Cartist in Jaipur, have lent their support to the Yatra, and will be involved in the events scheduled for their particular cities. Two characters — 'Wheel Singh' and 'Car Kumari' are also travelling along with the Yatra.

Previous Cartist exhibitions held in Jaipur have worked towards creating opportunities for young, struggling artists. In 2015, art students from institutions like JJ School of Art, Mumbai; Shantiniketan, Kolkata; MSU, Baroda; Delhi School of Art; Chandigarh College of Art; College of Arts and Crafts, Patna; and fine arts colleges in Jaipur expressed a variety of ideas on the automobile — as an object of social status, a vehicle of ambition, growth and success — for the Cartist exhibition. (Incidentally, Cartist events are held in public places as a discernible effort to bring art outside the domain of galleries.) In September 2017, automobile artists who had previously shown their work at Cartist, became part of the 'Rally for Rivers' movement spearheaded by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The three Mahindra jeeps accompanying the Rally were transformed overnight into colourful canvases displaying artwork on the theme of environmental conservation. Sixteen young artists led the charge, supported by two senior artists — Shrikant Ranga from Bikaner and Varun Kumar of Jaipur. Later, Sadhguru’s Mercedes G 63 AMG, loaned to him for the duration of the rally by the Sundaram Motors AMG Performance Center, to test drive for one month, was also painted within three hours when he expressed the wish that his car too would reflect messages about environmental protection.

"Because automobiles move, they carry the message to a larger and more diverse audience,” says Himanshu Junaid, a vintage car restorer from Jaipur, who founded Cartist in 2015. On this, its inaugural travelling edition, Cartist Yatra hopes to raise awareness around saving India's rivers, even as it promotes automobile art. The Yatra has received the go ahead from the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Here's a look at the Cartist Yatra's itinerary:

Leave Jaipur — 4 November
Halt at Ahmadabad, Sabarmati River Front — 9-12 November
Mumbai, at Kala Ghoda — 16-19 November
Pune, Agriculture College — 23-26 November
Hyderabad, City College — 30 November-3 December
Bengaluru, Palace Ground — 7-10 December
Kochi, Darbar Hall — 14-17 December
Chennai, Wesley Ground — 28-31 December
Kolkata — 4-7 January 2018
Chandigarh — 18-21 January
New Delhi, Auto Expo — 4-14 February

The Cartist Automobile Arts Festival will take place from 22-24 February 2018 at Jaipur. Around 200 artists from across India will showcase their automobile art during the event.

Updated Date: Nov 04, 2017 11:11 AM

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