The Delhi Collage of Art

How many of you love fine arts? I bet most of you. Not necessarily painting something significant but just the activity of drawing and colouring. But how many of you have actually taken classes for it? I bet very few. The reasons maybe many. From hearing art is 'unimportant' from elders to being 'not good enough' to pursue arts as a profession. Or worse, you being told that one cannot sustain one's life with art. Sounds familiar? It did with Mr Ashwani too. Now who's this person?

Mr Ashwani Kumar Prithviwasi deserves to be called a living legend because of his contribution in the field of fine arts. A person who is totally self made with no family background in Arts but who went on to become not only a successful artist but a great teacher and an entrepreneur with a chain of Art colleges under his belt. He believed that everyone should have the right to draw and paint and his institutes provide professional degrees to hobby classes, irrespective of age, educational background and caliber.
I got to know more about Mr Ashwani when a grand retrospective show was organized at Delhi Collage of Art. We got an opportunity to witness the memorable journey of its founder-principal Ashwani Kumar Prithviwasi. The inspiring thing is that he came across a lot of struggles but he also cherished moments of success. While talking about his journey Ashwani said, in 1996 there were only five institutes of fine arts, two government, two semi government and one private. At that time many people who wished to learn arts didn't get an opportunity to pursue their interests. Some were occupied in jobs while others had age limitations. At that time on 17th August 1996 a new institute was launched with the initial name of Ashu Rangshala with just a single student in Uttam Nagar, Delhi. 
Gradually the numbers started increasing. Mr Ashwani did a lot of efforts to make people aware of the immense possibilities in fine arts. In 2001 this institute transformed in to a professional one. Regular courses were prepared and admission dates were finalized. Afterwards, academic calendar for activities like Annual event, tours of art galleries, interaction with renowned artists, visit to their studios and outdoor classes, all became a part of the curriculum.

Mr Ashwani spent total 12 years in this learning and degree process. He said that he didn't consider the age of his students at the time of enrolment and maximum knowledge was imparted in the initial year of the course.12th pass students could join any of his courses. For working people, all classes used to be organised on Sundays which was quite different from other institutes. Mr Ashwani himself had been enrolled for Art courses for 12 years and had garnered a vast experience. He started studying formal courses from 1990. His journey started after doing BFA course from College Of Art.
Over 7000 students have passed out from here till date which includes people from forty countries. They have been doing really well. Some are running their own art institutes while some others are freelance artists. As of now, Delhi Collage of Art has many branches. This institute got its present name in 2001 which is inspired from the collage of Picasso. This institute gives equal opportunity to well off as well as poor students. Almost 100 poor students have been taught free over here and they are doing well today.

For the first time In India a private institute organised a foreign tour for its students. Almost forty students were sent to Paris and they got to see the beauty of Monalisa. Students also got opportunity to visit Rome and Milan in Italy for better exposure. This is an annual affair. Annual Tours to biggest museums of the country also started which include tour of Rajasthan, Ajanta Ellora, Khajuraho and Sanchi Stupa. Most of the art exhibitions of this institute are organised in Lalit Kala Academy.

Annual fest are organised at FICCI, Sai and Kamani auditorium. For the first time in history, this institute has awarded BC Sanyal Award and Lifetime achievement award to renowned artists like M. F. Hussain, Krishna Khanna, Manjeet Bawa, Ram Sutar, Jatin Das, Anjolie Ela Menon, Anupam Sood and Niren Sen. This institute has felicitated sixty artists. No other institute had been able to achieve this feat. Ashwani hiself is a renowned artist. In 1999 an exhibition of Ashwani’s mirror paintings was organised in Gurgaon. It was the first time in the history that mirror paintings were exhibited
So from an institute that started on the terrace of his home in Uttam Nagar to a chain of colleges, this is a mammoth achievement. Mr Ashwani did performing arts for the first time, at a period when it was unknown in India. There had been many breakthroughs in the field of art courtesy him and I was privileged to witness all this in retrospect.

I also made a new print under his guidance. I never knew that water and enamel paints could create something so simple yet so beautiful. I wish Mr Ashwani and The Delhi Collage of Art all the best in future.


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