Disabled people display artwork at a national exhibition in Bangalore

By blending geometric precision and textile design, 29-year-old Arpan Kumar defines modern art with his personal touch. His pastel painting is among the 105 exhibits that stand proudly at the National Level Art Exhibition organized by NIMHANS at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (KCP).

Arpan Kumar suffers from a mental disorder. A student at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Arpan found his composure in creating geometric patterns. His painting has drawn attention for precise measurements in the style of modern art.

At the side of the gallery was 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 mentally ill girl.

Communicate through art

The Departments of Psychiatric Social Work, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and Mental Health Education at NIMHANS in Bengaluru, as well as the Department of Disability Empowerment (PwD) at the Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment of the Union, have organized artistic workshops at the national level for people with disabilities. followed by the exhibition.

From self-portraits to memories of their childhood, to the engraving of their first ascent in the metro, to pushing the limits by redefining the rules of the art; 47 people with disabilities came together to express their ideas, emotions and experiences as they spoke.

“With the help of art mentors and YouTube videos, I have continued to explore new forms of painting as I am able to express myself better through colors,” said Jijo Das, an artist and illustrator with Down syndrome. “Art has been very therapeutic for me. I feel more comfortable when I paint,” he said.

People from eight states all over India participate in this exhibition. All participants in the art workshops, which took place in July and October, were guided by eminent professors from KCP’s College of Fine Arts.

Aarti Jagannathan, Additional Professor of Psychiatric Social Work at NIMHANS, who is the lead coordinator of the initiative, said: “Art has a unique characteristic of helping the artist convey a part of themselves, their emotions to his work, thus being therapeutic. Apart from this, art can also act as a medium of employment.

“This exhibition and sale of paintings made by people with disabilities is a first step of its kind to highlight the talent of people with disabilities, and also a means for their empowerment. The exhibit will help reduce the stigma associated with people with disabilities by showcasing their creativity and skills. It will also be an opportunity for these participants to exhibit their work in front of a large audience,” she said.

Participants include people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, neurological disorders and multiple disabilities. The exhibition was opened by KS Lathakumari, director of the Department for Empowerment of Disabled and Elderly People. It will culminate on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The exhibition will be held at KCP the first week (until November 27). In the second week, it will move to NIMHANS (from November 28).

Christopher S. Washington