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CIMA Gallary

First day-first show
Early to reach, biggies to buy

He walked in with Rs 4,400 in his pocket and walked out with eight pieces of original art.

“Can it get better than that?!” gushed Vishal Motwani, watching his picks being neatly packed into brown paper pouches. “Where would I find original artwork for this price? That was the biggest incentive!”

Vishal mirrored the mood at CIMA Gallery on Friday morning as the curtains went up on the three-day Art Mela, opening the floodgates for art lovers with footfall closing in on 500 in the first half and paintings flying off the walls.

The smart movers of course were the ones who lined up along the Sunny Towers staircase hours before shutter-up at 11am and so managed to grab a chunk of the major artists. Jogen Chowdhury, Shuvaprasanna, Suhas Roy and Lalu Prosad Shaw emerged as the fastest sellers with their paintings vanishing within 10 minutes of the opening.

Artists like Samir Aich, Shakila, Atin Basak, Sumitro Basak and Shyamal Roy were there to greet the morning rush. “We see people queuing up for films and concerts but to see them stand in line patiently for the sake of art is a real treat. For us it is very satisfying to see that when given an opportunity people in general would go for good and original pieces of art,” summed up Aich.

If some went for the safety of works by older masters with friendly price tags, others experimented with contemporary artists and new styles. No wonder the bestsellers list at the end of Day One was an eclectic mix of Sumitro Basak’s icon series, Ramendranath Kastha’s lithographs, Shyamal Roy’s watercolours, Goutam Khamaru’s mixed media and Satyajit Roy’s pop art.

Financiers and IT professionals, doctors and builders, students and artistes, the Art Mela’s aim to bring art closer to common people clicked — and how! From wide-eyed teenagers like Visakha, Aanya and Shravana who decided to “save up on pocket money to buy artworks from Art Mela next time” to Partho Bose who took a “two-hour art break” from work and turned up with his “boss” at the Mela.

Friday saw many young faces between 25 and 35 willing to learn and get acquainted with art, allowing themselves to be guided through the medium, forms and meanings as long as it meant “a good buy for our walls”. There was also a preference for figurative art over the abstract, quirky styles over classic forms.

“It proves that a large population interested in the arts is young and we also see how the taste is moving away from the renaissance salon style towards a mixture of styles and popular imagery influenced by the Internet, television and cinema,” said Pratiti Sarkar, chief administrator of CIMA.

Art Mela at CIMA Gallery is open over the weekend, 11am to 8pm