“The Drifting Canvas” is in motion. It is undoubtedly a mesmerising show. The exhibition displays the works of 11 great artists: Van Gogh, Monet, Klimt, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Paul Signac, Henri Rousseau, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kazimir Malevich, in a multimedia format on 13 big screens. Alongside this, the works of contemporary Indian artists are also displayed here as an extension to the travelling show. Manikantan Namboodiri, the CEO of “The Drifting Canvas”, tells us about the idea, vision and processes involved in bringing it to India.
Ashish: Can you tell us about your journey of bringing “The Drifting Canvas” to India?
Manikantan Namboodiri (MN): After we made the big decision to bring this to India, the next big challenge was to identify the right location for something like this. There had been a lot of considerations to keep in mind. The availability of an open space, possibility to construct hangers with high ceiling, and much more, but the most important was to identify a public space which would justify an event like this. We are thankful to the Select Citywalk management for the space and all the support they provided. Once this was done, the complete plan was chalked out. We had structural engineers who worked with us and helped plan the structure which could withstand wind and rain.
Equipment parameters were defined by a Russian team and we sourced materials accordingly. We had industry stalwarts working on sound and video execution. The right sound and video were sourced as per specifications, to suit Indian conditions. The sound was sourced from Spain, projectors were purchased by OEM from Thailand, and so on.
So the complete process was planned and executed by a large team of specialists who worked towards delivering the right project.
Ashish: When you decided to bring “The Drifting Canvas” to India, what response did you expect? And so far, what have you found?
MN: I would break this into two parts. Business expectations and product expectations. We were very sure people would like what they see and the results have been more than satisfactory. Every person who has been to the exhibition has shared only amazing feedback. On the business front, while we wished we had a lot of people, we also knew that it would take some time before it builds up. A lot of positive word-of-mouth has been generated, and we are sure many more people will visit us in the coming days.
Ashish: What is the intent here? Is it just another business model, an interest in art, a mix of the two, or something else?
MN: The intent is to popularise art but we cannot take away the business aspect. The idea is to generate a whole lot more interest which would help the overall ecosystem of art and artists. A change in the
ecosystem would help all stakeholders financially. Currently, we are following a particular investment model and we hope the larger goals are met.
Ashish: How do you see the economics of art in India?
MN: I would label it as a work in progress. But much more needs to happen. The overall ecosystem has to change for the better. The government has a large role to play as well. So all stakeholders have their task cut out. And if we succeed, we will be able to bring about the change earlier than expected.
Ashish: Is art limited to a certain class(es) in India?
MN: Currently, yes. Because there is only one approach to art available right now.
Ashish: Who is your favourite artist(/work) among the ones displayed here?
MN: Van Gogh… I have to confess that this is because before this (experience) he was the only artist I knew.
Ashish: What needs to be done to reach out to more people?
MN: An approach which art has not seen. Art needs to be marketed. It can be argued that by doing so, we might commodify art, but then the possible benefits are so many that this is a risk worth taking.
Ashish: Any advice for people willing to seek their career in art promotion?
MN: Keep the passion going and keep learning. The future is bright.
Ashish: What has been the most surprising aspect of the event till now, for you?
MN: Nothing yet. All has been as per the plan.