Art & Literature

An Indian elephant is now a professional artist

Today I read a news of an unusual art exhibition by an Indian elephant. A series of paintings by an Indian elephant have gone on sale to raise money to protect the endangered animal.

_77247170_77247168Wildlife SOS in alliance with Art Spice at The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa, New Delhi collaborated with Singapore-based artist Alpana Ahuja is hosting a month long exhibition titled ‘Ganpati to Gajah’, the first exhibition of an unconventional artist: a rescued Indian elephant named Phoolkali, at Art Spice gallery. Smt Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Welfare, inaugurated the art exhibition on August 23rd. The exhibition is open for public viewing till September 19th.

Ganpati to Gajah art exhibitions_ Padhchinh collection_organized by Wildlife SOS in The Metropolitan Hotel New Delhi 22nd August (14)_0
Credit: Wildlife SOS

‘Ganpathi to Gajah’ features the collaborative works of a rescued elephant Phoolkali, and Singapore-based, India-born artist, Alpana Ahuja, who worked closely for several months with Indian Wildlife Conservation NGO Wildlife SOS to understand the challenges Indian elephants face in the wild and in captivity. Alpana’s collaboration with Phoolkali took place at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura — India’s first ever chain-free facility for elephants. Together, they created a series of unique and stunning images on canvas, a first of its kind in India.

Phool-kali painting with the help of her friends
Phoolkali painting with the help of her friends (Credit: NDTV)

If you’re wondering how such a massive creature could create such precise, neat artworks without totally trashing a lightweight canvas, know that there is a human artist’s hand in the work as well. Alpana Ahuja developed an elegant system to produce the paintings, coaxing Phoolakli into a good mood with bananas and other food before quickly dabbing the creature’s foot with paint and imprinting it on the canvas. And how much does a painting by Phoolakli command? Between $165 and $400. A former wild elephant is now a professional artist!

2014-08-28-elephant-painting-phoolkali-Alpana-Ahuja
A painting by elephant Phoolkali and Alpana Ahuja (Credit: Sarah Cascone, Source: Artnet News)

The exhibition is timed to coincide with the Indian festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which begins on Friday and celebrates the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha. The money raised from the sale will be used towards elephant conservation.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates the population of the Indian elephant between 20,000-25,000. They are often kept in pathetic conditions by their masters and trafficked illegally.

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