Two years ago, Jaipur hosted the first edition of Cartist, an automobile art festival. The brainchild of vintage car restorer Himanshu Jangid, who owns United Restorations, it was started with the aim of connecting people and art. Beyond the annual festival, Cartist brings together artists for larger community projects like painting autorickshaws (used to ferry delegates at the 2016 Jaipur Literature Festival) and public spaces like railway stations. Last year also saw 10 artists, including Pradeep Puthoor and Raj More, painting 10 Tata Nanos as part of their Moving Art Project.
Ahead of its next edition, in February 2018, the festival team is embarking on a nationwide ‘Cartist Yatra’ — to take art to the masses and document the craft of the country’s unsung heroes, the traditional artists. “The Yatra (flagging off on November 4 from Jaipur) will span 121 days and 9,100 km through 10 cities. We will travel with two shipping containers that will double up as art galleries at our various stops (carrying paintings, scooter and car installations, sculptures and five of the Nanos),” says Jangid.
Elaborating on the ‘Unsung Heroes’ concept, he says, “Jaipur, for example, is known for its blue pottery, and the walls of the city display beautiful artwork. Across India, almost every truck bears the work of an artist, which often goes unappreciated. And there are many like this: the quilt makers of Jaipur, the Tanjore painting artists in the South. We want to document what they do and spread awareness, not just among people in cities but also among other artisans.” The whole of this month, Cartist is highlighting the works of some of these artists on their website and social media to generate more awareness about their crafts.
Paying it forward
The Yatra is expected to make 18 pit-stops — from visiting the Pillalamarri, an 800-year-old banyan tree in Telangana’s Mahbubnagar, and the sports academy in Anantapur, to taking in local art forms in Mysuru, Coimbatore and Puri.
Besides halts at prominent cities like Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad, the Yatra will also make four-day stops in Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai and Kolkata. And, in each city, they will engage with local artists, the art fraternity, youth and the general public. “We intend to have 100 artists present their work, of which about 20 (from each city) will be invited to participate in Cartist 2018 in Jaipur,” says Jangid, adding, “We’re also planning to bring out a book featuring the works of young automotive artists, to encourage more people to join the fold.”
Cartist’s love for automobile art extends to all its forms — be it on a vehicle or canvas, as a sculpture or an installation. On the trip, the team plans to visit automobile component and car manufacturing facilities in Coimbatore and Chennai, and GM’s Design Studio in Bengaluru.
It’s a daunting endeavour, but one Jangid believes is worth it, in order to sensitise people about the importance of art — both automobile and otherwise.