Centre d’Art – Citadines is an art space at the ground level of one of the Citadines apartment buildings.It is used as an art gallery for temporary and permanent exhibitions and includes a room for video projections.
ABOUT CENTRE D’ART
Centre d’Art was the vision of Dominique Darr (1932 – 2016), a Parisienne who visited Auroville regularly from the 1970s. A prolific photographer who carefully documented the beginning and growth of Auroville, she realized the need to create an artistic venue to store these archives, keep alive the work of Roger Anger (the chief architect of Auroville), organise events and art exhibitions, conduct art workshops, and host art residencies.
“If just one artist can demonstrate his talent thanks to his seniors, we will have achieved something,” she says, to explain the mission of the centre, which hosts an 800 square metre gallery-library-archival space at Citadines, Auroville. Today, Centre d’Art is run with the help of a generous Endowment Fund instituted by Dominique Darr. It consists of two exhibition galleries, an audio library as well as a research library of books on visual arts. Documentaries are screened, events are conducted, and at least one exhibition every month is hosted. Last year they conducted nine exhibitions from two different continents, giving viewers exposure to a very diverse collection of art.
“It (art) helps you in expressing what you want to say fearlessly. We want to give Auroville children, the chance to explore what art means to them,” says Sri Kolari, one of the team members. Dominique Jacques, Sergey and Agathe Fourquez, the other members of the administrative team I met, explain that in the next few years they are planning and hoping to have artists in residence so they can have teachers for a longer time for classes and workshops. Incorporating art by conducting regular workshops for school children will make a real difference in a child’s education. “The selection of paintings for the exhibitions is hard,” admits the team when asked what are the challenges Centre D’Art faces. “To say no, is the biggest challenge,” says Agathe Fourquez. As we all know, it is not always easy to define which art is better than the other. Doing a process of selection also brings with it a high probability of not recognizing certain artworks for what they are. So, it is not an easy job. Especially when you are trying to select while trying to have diversity in the artwork that is put up.
Centre d’Art is constantly trying to show art in a way that makes it freer-flowing and diverse, making it more and more relatable to a diverse group of people. The exhibitions in Centre d’Art do not give a particular message but they say things leading up to the idea of human unity. They don’t wish to give any other political message. According to Dominique Jacques, “Art is something that is beyond politics. She feels that the paintings in Centre d’Art give the message of human unity which is beyond politics. There are many schools of thought around the relationship between politics and art. This is just one of them. This is because everyone’s definition of what is political and what is art differs. I feel that any art piece has a political message embedded in it. However, the viewer is free to take what he/she wants to from the painting and see what it means to him, even though the paintings are selected to give a certain message. After all, true artwork is created when both the artist and the viewer engage with each other.
By Nivedita Singhal
For AV Art Service
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