ArtEast 2021 kicks off, focuses on art as storytelling


New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANSlife) The 2021 edition of the ArtEast Festival, which is being held virtually this year, will focus on art and storytelling, and is “an effort to revive our interest through an understanding and reinterpretation of art that tells a story”. It is ongoing till August 22.

Curated by Kishalay Bhattacharjee, ArtEast 2021: Tell me a Story is a virtual documentation of a very strong and sustained element of art-storytelling. Through paintings, illustrations, photo collages, visual poetry, dance, cinema and conversations, ArtEast 2021 is an attempt to understand and reinterpret narrative art practices.

An underlying focus of the festival is on art, history, livelihood, migration, documentation and discussion. It began as an attempt to present India’s Northeast region and its neighbourhood from a more contemporary perspective. But the project now seeks to go beyond the region and trace the lineage of art and narrative practices that defy geography and has been at odds to endure and sustain, said the festival.

The online exhibitions available to see on include displays of Pattachitra Paintings of Odisha, photographic collages and painting by Isaac Tseten Gergen, illustrations by Sirawon Tulisen Khathing from Shillong, illustrations by Sirawon Tulisen Khathing on Shillong and its cherry blossom season, collated art by Siddhartha Das, photographs by Parasher Baruah on the lives of migrant workers in Mumbai and more.

Speaking about the pandemic, the curator’s note said: “Art and artists were amongst the worst hit. But art heals and people found solace in visual narratives, shapes, colours and imagination. ArtEast 2021, a virtual festival invokes Art as Storytelling and showcases a slice of folk or traditional craft and contemporary art that were originally storytelling rituals with a visual and performative aspect that over time became a practice. Many such practices today suffer from lack of patronage or support and have either succumbed to commercial pressures or have slowly faded to the margins. Some have disappeared.

“The intersection of art and storytelling is part of Indian art tradition. The tellers of these tales were not only artists but carriers of knowledge. The Patachitra or narrative scroll painting of Bengal for example depicts episodes from mythology, religion and folklore. The various versions of the epics provide rich content. The geography of such practice extends from the Patua painters and poet performers of Bengal, the Pattachitra art of Odisha to the bards of Rajasthan’s Phad scroll, the Garoda picture-tellers in Gujarat to the Chitrakathis of Maharashtra.”

The festival collaborators Lalsawmliani Tochhawng , Ashima Sharma and Kishalay Bhattacharjee have tried to put together art traditions from folk to the contemporary that tell us a story.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at