Beyond Limits 2021: Platform for artists with disabilities and an ode to creativity
A platform for artists with disabilities and an ode to creativity, this city exhibition offers a variety of art
Aparna Art Gallery buzzed with excited murmurs from the audience gathered to witness the inauguration of ‘Beyond Limits 2021’, an annual art exhibition exclusively for artists with disabilities, on Thursday, which was the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year, the exhibition organised by the NGO—Family Of Disabled (FOD)—has 110 artworks (including sculptures) from 66 artists with disabilities. The works of these artists encompass varied themes such as religion, spirituality, rural life, and loneliness, among others.
“This project was started to give regular income opportunities to the artists. We provide a platform and they are recognised and established in the art world. Otherwise, they are just at home. Nobody knows about them. They cannot reach out to the galleries to push their artwork, and if they do, they are treated as charity cases. When we give them a platform, their creativity is highlighted,” said Preeti Johar, the CEO of FOD and the daughter of its founder, Dr. Rajinder Johar.
The occasion was graced by renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Padma Shri Geeta Chandran; popular Punjabi fiction writer Ajeet Caur, and her daughter Aparna Caur, an internationally-known artist and the founder of Aparna Art Gallery; and Rajiv Chandran, Director for United Nations (UN) Information Centre for India and Bhutan.
Reading out a message by António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN, Chandran said, “Realising the rights, agency and leadership of persons with disabilities will advance our common future.”
A colourful medley
Beetan Goswami (41), a deaf artist from Himachal Pradesh, has three paintings—’Heavenly Bliss’, ‘Who Is There’, and ‘Lonely Boat’—on display. Explaining ‘Lonely Boat’ with the help of sign language interpreter Otish Singh, Goswami said that it is a painting about a boat left bereft and alone, much like people have been, during the pandemic. The boat looks ragged and broken in places to symbolise the passage of time.
“Art is something that cures your mind. It makes you feel like you are real, you are there, and you can be alive. When those colours mix with your life, they show you both reality and illusions,” said Arun Srinivasan (34), an artist from Noida, who has been painting for eight years. He added that he came to this exhibition because “I would get to interact with so many other artists. What else could I want? Talking to people makes me happy”. His paintings this year depict the constant flux of life, and how it forces people to change, through reflections of trees and New York’s buildings in a burst of colour.
A few artists who have displayed their works here include Vyom Aggarwal (25), Shweta Garg (30), Varsha Badal (34), Dev Ramprasad (16). Although the artists have not seen much improvement in accessibility for persons with disabilities across India, they are hopeful that change will happen slowly. “It will take time, because of approvals needed from a lot of people,” concluded Srinivasan.