The solemn observation of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was held at Riti Academy, Shillong on 2nd October, 2020 with the online interaction with artists of Meghalaya from across the State and from elsewhere in the country. The occasion was graced by senior officials of Arts and Culture Department, Government of Meghalaya including F R Kharkongor, Commissioner, K L Nongbri, Joint Secretary and W Nongsiej, Director.
The Chief Guest, Kharkongor in his address to the participants emphasised on the need to uphold the ideals professed by Mahatma Gandhi through art and appreciated the enthusiasm of the home grown artists that have contributed to the auspicious event honouring the Father of Nation. The virtual interaction is part of the online art exhibition under the aegis of the Department of Arts and Culture, Government of Meghalaya. Altogether there are fifty two paintings and drawings, one graphic novel and four video art and documentary executed by fifteen artists.
Initially, the interaction was discussed on the virtues of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology as reflected through the artworks of the participating artists. The thread Mandala of Dr Priti C Nartiang represented the sacred tool for meditation, in conformity with spiritual guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. The art installation of Shovin Bhattacharjee titled Mahatma Gandhi in 21st Century defines the relevance of Gandhi in today’s social and political context. To define this idea into a tangible format; the installation encompasses with the famous ‘Dandi March’ and the Cultural significance of the movement was far beyond of its political milieu. It was an attempt to unite India irrespective of its caste and class barrier. Denis Marbañiang emphasised on the crux of Gandhi movement for liberation from colonial supremacy, Naisha Richmond’s Tariang’s paintings delves on the famous quotes of Mahatma Gandhi, while Samanda Nora Pyngrope portrays Khasi folk elements on the Gandhian philosophy. However, the popular images are the living root bridges by Skhemlang Hynñiewta, Revaldo Mawlong and Mewan Tham as they asserted that Gandhi is the defender of indigenous skill for public utility. Nevertheless, a wide range of Gandhi portrayal on various aspects of his ideology were presented by D Henpilen, Aripagos Manner and Venus Batyngkan Hynñiewta.
The graphic novel ‘Tynnrai Shwa Ki Tnat’ and documentary film ‘Behind the Fabric’ by Mario Pathaw are distinctive, relevant and extraordinary works of art in his quest for relative concept of harmony with nature and the ingenious folk knowledge as professed by Mahatma Gandhi. The creative video art by Rangskhembor Mawblei titled ‘Line’, ‘Symboh’ and ‘Syrngiew’ explored in to the essence of the ordinary, simple or rather insignificant, while actually they are the great factors of contentment and salvation.
The virtual interaction has brought about some contentious issues of aesthetic, career prospect, and provoked certain cultural situation in Meghalaya. The vital debates aroused out of the new education policy, the Barik Heritage Park that could transform in to the shopping mall and the Rs. 151.32 crore project of the Shillong International Centre of Performing Arts and Culture, which needs introspection and scrutiny into the reality of art scenario and cultural situation in the state of Meghalaya.