Songs of the south: How Bangalore is trying to reinvent itself as an art hub

Songs of the south: How Bangalore is trying to reinvent itself as an art hub

By BHUMIKA POPLI | | 27 August, 2016
Artist Adil Writer with his ceramic book sculpture Secrets Lie Within.
Bangalore has long been known as the IT capital of India. But there’s another, more creative side to the city, comprising the small but growing community of young and talented artists who have chosen to live and work here, writes Bhumika Popli.

Bangalore is much more than a tech city.  Yes, the art scene of Bangalore is also making waves across the country. With festival like Art Bengaluru going on in the city from 19-28 August at the U.B. City Mall, meant to promote artists from both India and abroad, Guardian 20 decided to take a closer look at the art panorama that Bangalore offers. 

Abhishek Naidu, curator of Art Bengaluru, finds a lot of potential in the city. “Bangalore has incredible artists. With pioneers like S.G. Vasudev, younger artists like Shashi Bharti and S.A. Vimalnathan, the city fairly competes with metropolises like Delhi and Mumbai. It is just that these cities’ art scene started a bit earlier so it is more evolved as compared to Bangalore’s. But art festival like Art Bengaluru has brought the art community and art enthusiasts together.”

Acclaimed senior artist S.G. Vasudev shares with us his insight about how the art scene in Bangalore developed. “It is only in the late ’70s Bangalore became more aware of its art scene, when very bright, young artists went out to study in very good art institutions like M.S. University, Baroda and Santiniketan, thanks to the scholarship provided by the Lalit Kala Akademi. Nearly 35 to 40 of them returned to Bangalore and brought in their experiences and that is how Bangalore became an emerging city in the field of arts,” says Vasudev.

Here in Bangalore, the mainstream traditional art is one thing but there are alternative strains that run across the local art scene. Installation pieces, site-specific work, performance art, interactive art, street art are few of the alternative arts which have found favour with residents here.  A trust that supports new and emerging artists, India Foundation for Arts (IFA) started offering grants in 1995 for new and distinct artworks. Since then, IFA has supported over 443 arts projects disbursing over Rs 21 crores in twenty one states across India.

“In the late ’70s Bangalore became more aware of its art scene, when very bright, young artists went out to study in very good art institutions like M.S. University, Baroda and Santiniketan. Nearly 35 to 40 of them returned to Bangalore and brought in their experiences back to this city.” 

Visual artist and historian Suresh Jayaram says, “The art scene in Bangalore is quite diverse. We have the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Sumukha, SKE and Time and Space gallery which are quite prominent. Apart from this,  we have a lot of alternative art spaces like Shanthi Road, Goethe Institute, IFA, which are leading the bandwagon for other emerging alternative art spaces.”

IFA grantee Gayatri Kodikal is a video/media artist based in Bangalore. Her work has been exhibited in various art, film and video festivals in New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, as well as at international venues in Newcastle, Riga, Istanbul, Paris and Oslo. At present she is exploring sound art, game narratives and imagery. Her work has often combined specific historical instances with her interests in science fiction, ghost stories, animism and animal consciousness.

She believes that Bangalore provides the perfect space for her to grow as an artist. “When I was young, my parents used to take me to Nrityagram, which is a gurukul for Indian classical dances set up in 1990 by Pratima Gouri. My artistic sensibilities and cultural exposure increased due to
this school.”

S.G. Vasudev with one of his paintings & Monkey and the Mobile, a play supported by the IFA.Not just this, Gayatri also finds the public perception of art very good in this city. She says, “The people are very curious. People from other parts of the country come here to get a taste of contemporary arts in Bangalore. Bangalore also has a very strong theatre culture practiced by the local community. One can infer that Bangalore is very conscious of its traditional arts and due to influx of people from other states, the contemporary art scene has also constantly expanded.”

Vasudev thinks that to promote the arts much needs to be done yet. He says, “Corporate bodies and industrialists should come forward to support art. While Bangalore has become an important IT city, the impact of it is yet to be seen in the promotion of art. I think we need Bangalore Biennale or Art Festival to promote art, which I feel will happen perhaps in another year or two.”

He also thinks that the government should be taking steps to support local artists. He says, “The government needs to do a lot for the promotion of arts here. It has yet to create studio spaces for artists, which it has been promising since the last 7-8 years. The city needs a good policy and experts to generate ideas. The government officials need to understand the significance of the contributions made by artists to this city.” 

Naidu also wants artists and curators to form a larger group where they interact.  “All I would want for the art fraternity in Bangalore, which is slightly fragmented, is that it should come together more often. The artists are not as integrated as in more established markets like Delhi and Mumbai. They should meet up more often and share ideas over a cup of coffee.”

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.