“When price tags speak for themselves, one really does not need to convince people that art can be affordable. Our challenge is to let more people know,” says Srila Chatterjee, founder of Baro Market which will be putting together a one-week show ‘The Affordable Art Show (July 31- August 8) at the Method Art Space, in Mumbais heritage Arts District – Kala Ghoda. With art works starting from a base price of Rupees two thousand, customised framing on the spot will also be offered.
Conceived as a result of many bazaars that were curated at Baro with crafts and hand-made design from all over India, Chatterjee says the success of those led to a decision to set up a permanent Baro Market with small brands, craftsmen and artists pan India that they specially chose. “This was launched on March 1 2020, with just over 60 brands/artists. On our launch weekend, we exceeded our monthly target. Although, we were aware that part of that success was due to a new launch, it also convinced us we were on the right track. Sadly, on March 19 we shut down the physical store in face of the pandemic.”
Stressing that the artists associated with Baro have grown in confidence, and are therefore experimenting and trying things they might not have been ready to do before, the founder, who is also a film producer feels, “There is mutual respect and trust, and they like the way we have constantly presented them with their creations. This makes it possible for us to attempt bigger plans.”
Talk to her about the general reaction of the art community towards her ‘affordable art’ initiative, and she says, “I really cannot answer about the community but yes, at our upcoming show, we have special selections from two well-known Kolkata-based curators and major Mumbai gallery – which I assume is an indication of endorsement.”
While their store in Mumbai could not survive the pandemic, Chatterjee adds, “I chose to continue with the online Baro Market, which was very new. Going online was the only option at the time, and clearly that is why the brand lived on.”
Stressing that in these times, plans need to be fluid as no one has a valid answer as to what the world is going to be like, she says, “We decided at the start we would go with the flow and keep adapting. What I would love is to be able to grow online and reach everywhere, but at the same time, find successful ways to get people to experience, touch and feel what we offer, and to hear the stories first hand. That hybrid model is what we aim to have.”
(Sukant Deepak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)