BENGALURU: Artist Shivanand Basavanthappa is an untiring optimist. He says that he does not like to dwell on unhappiness but on the possibilities of happiness. His exhibition ‘Stories of Happiness’ at the Gallery 9 explores the ups and downs in a person’s life and the persistent pursuit of happiness.
The artist draws inspiration from his own experiences. He says his life wasn’t a merry one. “I have struggled a lot even from my childhood for happiness. I used to follow art and dilgently practise it. I used to make Ganesha idols from clay and paint them.
People started to take notice of the idols and buying them for festivals. I began to draw my experiences and started on painting when I joined college.”
Like in every other family, his parents too wanted him to pursue engineering but he instead found an art institute in Dharwad. “I do not come from a well-to-do family,” he says. “So, I used do odd jobs and fund my education at the Government Fine Arts College. I used to paint in school and draw portraits of people.”
He has been working on this series on happiness for about four years. “I focus on concepts, not beauty in my paintings,” he says. “I convert my experiences into paintings that could touch peoples’ hearts.” Shivanand has displayed 35 works, priced between `35,000 and `2 lakh, in this exhibition. “Each work has a different meaning,” he says.
“For example, the work ‘Work is Worship’ has two panels. One shows people sleeping on water melons against a black background and the other has a man standing happily against a colourful background. It depicts the opportunities that we have in life. Watermelon symbolises opportunities, some people make use of them and some don’t. They remain trapped and do not grow.”
He has collected 300 to 400 artworks of artists from Karnataka such as M T V Acharya, M B Patil and K G Subramanyan. Shivanand has also won many awards including Kejriwal Young Artist Award and also National Award in 2008. He is also the President of Art Park, which is held every first Sunday of the month at Ravindra Kalakshetra.