Artistic move into neglect

TNIE walks around Venkatappa Art Gallery and finds out why it is losing out to other galleries in the city.

Published: 19th May 2012 01:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd June 2012 10:27 PM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: Bangalore is an active centre for visual arts.  Proof lies in the increase in footfalls at various exhibitions and programmes conducted by National Gallery of Modern Art, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Tasveer Art Gallery and Urban Solace among others. But, the oldest among them all, Venkatappa Art Gallery, has few takers.

The gallery, which started in 1975, was built to showcase the works of veteran artist Venkatappa. The State Government wanted the Gallery to be a prominent centre for arts and to provide a platform for artists. Yet, artists are reluctant to use the facilities and they cite the poor condition of the gallery as the reason for its failure. To begin with, the visitors have to pass through the museum to reach the gallery. The walls around the gallery are crumbling. Do not look for essential facilities like provision for drinking water or toilets, which are poorly maintained.

The Gallery, which was once host to Karnataka kala melas, art festivals and interactive sessions, now remain a mere shadow of its past glory. Artist S G Vasudev says, “I believe the Gallery is understaffed. It needs an exclusive officer to take care of the Art Gallery. Now, it is a part of the Government Museum, and the museum authorities manage to maintain it, which is a wrong thing to do.”

Artist Shantamani too stresses on the  importance of the gallery. “It is an important gallery in the city. There is ample parking space and it is a charm indeed. But no good will come out of it, if it doesn’t function well. The gallery needs much more participation from the artists and the public. The others, in spite of problems, organise amazing shows. Bangalore is a leading ground for experimental art. But what makes it so inaccessible? There is no will to make this an active  centre for art,” she adds.

The artists definitely wanted to see this gallery improve and a committee was formed a few years back to address the issues. “An advisory committee comprising artists and art  critics was formed sometime back. The committee was active for nearly three years. Then the committee changed and I do not know what the present committee is doing,” says Vasudev.

Yet another problem is the lack of space. Other than the permanent gallery, the paintings of other artists are hardly exhibited as the gallery is rented out  for other occasions. The collection is taken out and displayed only when there is nothing else to be put up.

Siddana Gowda, the current Deputy Director of the Gallery, blames the previous committee for the Gallery’s current condition. “We have started work on the reconstruction of the walls. We will also approach the government soon to secure permission to build an extension of this building to sort out the issue of lack of space. We will also ensure that drinking water is available as soon the renovation is complete,” he said.

Artists say that these promises have been in the air for a long time now.


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