SRINAGAR: Despite boasting an Institute of Music and Fine Arts (IMFA), established first as a hobby centre in 1965, Kashmir lacks an art gallery where artists and art students could showcase their work.
The absence of an art gallery and lack of other facilities reflect the official indifference the art scene faces in Kashmir.
“There are almost 375 art galleries in India. In Jammu there are three while Ladakh has a famous art gallery. The only place that lacks an art gallery is Kashmir,” Iftikhar Jaffer, head department of applied arts at the IMFA said.
Artists in Kashmir lament that because of lack of facilities, their art remains confined to rooms. Even if they get accolades on occasions, selling a piece of art is still a tough task. People are unaware about the efforts a piece of art takes, Afeefa Makhdoomi, a student of Applied Arts said.
“It’s a very vast subject. There are many specializations. Many students prefer to opt for fine arts but the government doesn’t support us. They don’t provide us facilities,” Afeefa said. “No one knows us. We are not able to show our work.”
In such a scenario, she said, the valley was losing artists to other states.
“Here exhibitions take place occasionally but in other states, exhibitions take place throughout the year and we prefer to move outside,” she said.
Mir Lateef, another student of Applied Arts at the Institute of Music and Fine Arts, University of Kashmir, however, said that the social media was helpful in places which lack facilities.
“During the last year’s turmoil I drew many paintings on Kashmir conflict. I am not able to show those paintings in an art gallery, so I choose social media,” Lateef said.
Teachers and officials at the IMFA, like Iftikhar Jaffer, acknowledge that an art gallery was needed.
“Everyone would come and see the work of different artists. But when there is no art gallery how would people know and see different artists of Kashmir. We do not know the artists in Kashmir. As they get no chance to show their work in front of people” Jaffer said.
He said that Jahangir Art Gallery in Mumabi was a prime tourist destination in Mumbai.
“Everyone goes there to see the work of different artists,” Jaffer said.
IMFA offers ten courses -seven in music and 3 in fine arts- with an intake capacity of ten students in each department.
HoD of Painting department Shafi Chamman said the institute also lacks requisite facilities.
“We are here since 1965 but we do not have our own art gallery. From last 50 years, they did not provide us facility where we can store work of our artists,” Chaman said.
Principal Saiqa Mohi had similar complaints.
“The government approach towards music and fine arts is not encouraging. They do not understand the art well; they don’t know what art is. Till 2016 we didn’t even have a permanent building for our course,” Mohi said.
The institute first started as a hobby centre in Srinagar. “It was a certificate course of a national level in 60’s.That time students were provided with a national degree certificate. After that we provided national diploma certificate to students. Later it was affiliated with Kashmir University by the government. We started degree course here,” Mohi added.