Portrait artists protest being shut out of book fair

Updated: Jan 31, 2013, 10:28 AM IST

Kolkata: A group of portrait artists Wednesday mounted protests at the 37th Kolkata International Book Fair after they were barred from showcasing their talent at the fair-venue.

"We have been regularly bringing these artists to the book fair every year. There are only seven or eight of them who paint portraits upon requests from visitors. This year, the organisers, Publishers and Booksellers Guild, asked us not to put up the painting set-ups at the grounds," said Bidyut Brahma of Chitra Shilpi Little Magazine Welfare Society.

According to Brahma, portrait painters are quite popular at the book fair, held at the sprawling Milan Mela grounds in the city.

"The guild had complained that the entrance to the food park in the book fair gets crowded because of artists sitting there. The artists draw many people, who like to get themselves painted instantly at the venue. That is why the crowds gather near them," Brahma explained.

Brahma said that a suggestion was made that the artists get a separate space, if the problem was crowding near the entrance of the food park. He said the organisers paid no heed to that suggestion.

Brahma and his colleagues said that they wish to take their protests across the state. He said, eventually, not only West Bengal but the whole country would witness their protests.

"Artists came before authors. They are extremely important. If the Guild can allot spaces for international delegates and car displays, then surely they can provide us a small space," remarked Brahma.