This artist will tell you how to keep the fresh spark alive in your soul 

Art curator Sharan Apparao talks about why artists should be let free to explore their creative side
Sharan Apparao
Sharan Apparao

A fresh spark that is always in search of good art, is what one can see in Sharan Apparao’s eyes. An art curator who owns Apparao Galleries (one of the largest art galleries in the country), she has embraced art as a part of who she is. It’s been more than three decades, but for her, it feels “like it began yesterday”. That might be the secret behind her bright and confident smile. When we caught up with her prior to her session at TNIE’s ThinkEdu Conclave, she couldn’t stop raving about art. She also came prepared with her own tips and tricks to keep the young spirit in us alive. Excerpts:
Was it difficult for to establish a career?
Actually, it was not. I was very lucky. I’d call it serendipity. Art happened to catch my fancy and made me fall in love with it. Over the years, I kept doing things to make it interesting for myself. Then I realised that if I shared that joy with others, somehow it might work. Now, it’s been 35 years. I never got bored because I kept evolving, even though I stayed within contemporary art. So, that’s how I allowed myself to create an advantage, because I was enjoying it. I think when you enjoy something, you automatically make it work. Every day is an adventure. But I looked at it with a ‘now what’ attitude. I think that’s what matters. 

Do you enjoy working with established artists or beginners?
Commerce isn’t my top priority, I care more about art and creativity. I've worked with many established artists who help me pay my bills, but it is the younger artists whom I look up to.

Currently, she is exhibiting a billboard painter turned auto driver turned artist named Dasan. Sharan says that she’d always felt that there was something special about him. “It is tough to explain things to him as he only understands Tamil. However, over the last few years, I don't know if he really got me, but the kind of work he's put up is really fantastic,” she says

Is there someone specific that you'd like to mention among them?
There are a lot of them. Also, there are a lot of older people who took up art recently. I worked with an artist for 11 years. Unfortunately, he passed away recently. He was around 60 when I first met him. He was a professor in Aligarh University. He quit his job just before retirement and said, "That's it! I've decided to enjoy my life." I'd say that he was young. His work was fresh. Also, he believed in it. People who have the conviction, regardless of their age, are the most exciting kind.

How does one keep the spark alive?
I’d say judgement and also the lack of judgement. It is important to not judge people. But at the same time, allow people to explore a little bit of their own madness. Unless they get to explore what I call madness, they will be boring. Encourage people and give them the right platform.

I think the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is superb. I think what the organisers, Bose (Krishnamachary) and Riyas (Komu) have done is phenomenal, given the restrictions. There is no commercial aspect. You can just take in the experience. We really need more platforms like that

Sharan Apparao, Art curator

Does that happen in today’s institutes?
In an education institution, it is difficult to give them these. I’m on the Board of Studies for Stella Maris College, Chennai. I tell them that the system must change to produce artists. Look at the school of art in Baroda. They are taught by artists and the students can interact with the real world. I believe in this sort of freedom.
Are artists in our country tied down with many restrictions?
Not at all. There are restrictions, but that is where I think the judgement and lack of judgement come to play.

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