SSVAD: A New Arts Centre in Santineketan
by Shoma Bhowmik
On 19th November 2010, Santiniketan witnessed the opening of the fabulous Art Centre of the Santiniketan Society of Visual Art and Design, now known by its acronym SSVAD, which resembles the word swad meaning 'taste' in our vernacular language. The programs ran for three entertaining days, until 21st November.
In 1989, a group of teachers and a few ex-students of Kala Bhavana came up with an idea to set up an art society in Santiniketan. In 2003, the society was registered as the Santiniketan Society of Visual Art and Design or SSVAD and the selected spot for the society was Sonajhuripalli, on the precints of Santiniketan. On 25th June 2008, the foundation stone for this centre was established by Prof Dinkar Kowshik. The architect, Milon Dutta, took two and half years to come up with the magnificent building. The whole process was spearheaded by Sri Jogen Chowdhury.
SSVAD an answer to a long felt need by the artist community here is a completely new cultural space on the map of Santiniketan, which aims to provide a fresh platform for artists. The Art Centre will be organizing exhibitions, workshops, art fairs, seminars and will bring out publications, portfolios, cards, of Indian and foreign artists in the pipeline. The centre has two studios one for painting, named Nandalal Studio and the other for sculptures and ceramics, known as the Ramkinkar Baij Studio. It also houses a large multipurpose hall called Rabindra Kaksha; a permanent display hall called Benode Behari Chitrashala and a library named Dipak Pathagriha. There is a small archive with computers and electronic services attached to the library, as well as a guest house and a cafeteria, too.
The artists, Goutam Das, Dilip Mitra, Prasanta Shahu, Arghapriya Mazumder and Prasun Kanti Bhattacharya, who had given their time whole heartedly to the project, graced the inauguration. Among the dignitaries present were, Sankho Ghosh, Jawar Sircar, JK Sharaff, Abul Khair, Ganesh Pyne, Sanat Kar, Rakhi Sarkar and Aparna Sen.
The inauguration program started with Stotra Path by Kalpika Mukhopadhaya and a Tagore song by Swastika Mukhopadhyay. Prof Dinkar Kowshik was felicitated for his contributions to the Santiniketan community, and for the reforms he brought into the workings of Kala Bhavana during his tenure as the Principal here. The programmed wound up with a very captivating violin concert by Mysore Brothers M Manjunath and M Nagaraj. A Colloquium on the theme 'Art and Life' in collaboration with Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, and music concerts were held on 21st November to mark the occasion.
With Prof KG Subramanyan an advisory board member, Prof Janak Jhankar Narzary as the President, Prof R Siva Kumar as the Vice President, Prof Jogen Chowdhury as the Secretary along with Dilip Mitra as the Assistant Secretary, this Art Centre seems to be in good hands. We all hope that the art community reaps the benefits of it all.