Art Bengaluru 2010 extravaganza

“Art Bengaluru 2010”- Bangalore’s contemporary art festival was a-five-day program with an on going display of work from different galleries in UB city.

Instead of the focus being on the foremost brands in the world, this week, the focus is on the foremost art galleries in the city. Friday the 26th of February saw the inauguration of the five day long “Art Bengaluru 2010”- Bangalore’s contemporary art festival. Art Bengaluru was a five day program with an on going display of work from different galleries in UB city.

The inauguration

Women and high heels and men dressed in suits, browsed the three floors of UB city, wine in hand to see art from the best galleries in Bangalore. Each gallery had a small space to display its work and each gallery had a distinct flavour. Art chutney a website which sells art  displayed “affordable” art on the ground floor.

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Some of the paintings displayed during the festival. Pic: Meghna Raghunathan

The event was inaugurated by nationally renowned artists, S G Vasudev, Yusuf Arakkal, Balan Nambiar, C F John, Murali Cheeroth, and Babu Eshwar Prasad. It was probably one of the largest joint art exhibitions Bangalore has seen. Every corner and corridor of the upscale mall had art in some form or the other. It featured mainly contemporary pieces in a variety of media, from oil paints to magazine paper, and a wide  subjects from, surreal paintings of childrens toys to conventional village scenery.

The exhibition even featured a few sculptures though they were greatly outnumbered by the paintings. There were over 200 hundred people at the opening- a huge increment from the usually empty mall. The atmosphere was festive. Some of the galleries included Gallery De’ Arts and Mahua art Gallery and some of the artists featured were Doddamani,and Pragya Jain.

What was the most interesting about this gallery was the unique set of styles and textures. While some chose pen on canvas, those paintings would be coupled with acrylic and oil paints. The works of art chutney especially demonstrated styles and textures which were completely original while some pictures were modern renditions of film posters, others were canvasses with lines, or a frames with 3D faces coming out.

While there were hundreds of pieces, according to Balan Nambiar, one of India’s leading sculptors, a lot of the work was less than mediocre. “ there were good works, mediocre works and bad works”. He adds that much of the work lacked anything original or innovative. He also remarked that that the art had more commercial value than quality.

According to Tara Maria Chawla, a design student however, “for the artists, this was one of the best possible venues to be showcased at, and the work in most cases was a definitely worth showcasing. Though she was impressed overall, she thought that more information could have been made available.

By the sheer collection of artwork, there is definitely something for everyone. Though themes get slightly repitive, there is large diversity in style, texture and medium. It is definitely worth seeing.

The second day

In addition to the gallery show, the weekend at Art Bengaluru saw a performance in “live art” organised by Artistree where one could create their very own art with the help of artists, Anjana Kuthaila and Angelina Kumar of Artistree- both Delhi based artists. For a price- one could create a work of art with the artists. The Idea of this, is to expose even those who can’t draw to a completely different world. Artistree is an organization full of artists devoted to helping others in need. The founders of Artistree have only conducted live art demonstrations in north India and this is the first of its kind in the south.

They used techniques like stencil and spray paint to create art in very short periods of time. According to Karin Chawla, it gathered a large group of onlookers all of who wanted to watch the “spray painting”.

The third day

Sunday hosted an art competition for students in the age group 6-18. Entries from schools as well as individual entries were allowed and over 300 students registered to take part in the competition. The UB city amphitheatre was converted into a space where children could work and they were provided with snacks and materials. The participating schools were. TISB, NAFL, Indus International School, DPS and NPS Indiranagar. The theme of the art competition was Holi – the festival of colours.

The fourth day

Monday hosted a debate on “Art as an investment” which was moderated by director and founder of creative space- 1 Shanti Road. Participants of this Debate were Neha Jiandani, Curator and Manager of Gallery Blue Spade, Vivek Poonacha the Director of Maya Art Gallery, Sara Arakkal, Curator and Director of Galerie Sara Arakkal, Renu George, Director Gallery Time And Space and Lina Vincent Sunish Art Historian and Consultant. Works from all these galleries were displayed for sale at UB city.

The fifth day

Tuesday showed a screening of short films at UB city. While the turnout was somewhat dismal, there were also technical difficulties and one of the films “Deadbeat”, which explores a slaughterhouse played for only about 30 seconds.

These old frames, was an 8mm film which used films from the filmmaker Tahireh Lal’s grandfather’s archive. The film is almost a memoir and looks back at various events of that time and really gives you a feel of family in that time period. “It was interesting but slightly depression” says Karin Chawla. The film by Smriti Mehra called Neerinakallu, was filmed in Bangalore at its largest Dhobighat. Many of the viewers, who were new to Indian culture couldn’t understand the context of this film and said that it needed to be coupled with some sort of explanation.

“To foreigners, it was just some people banging clothes” says Karin Chawla. The film by Paresh Hazra ,however, was well received and was said to have good flow. All in all according to Karin who is also a filmmaker, the films lacked flow and good angles. Also many were hard to understand and would have been better if interspersed with some sort of text or narration.

The closing day

On the final day of “Art Bengaluru”, Students from Ken School of art and Chithra Kala Parishath displayed their final work on the top floor of UB city. Though the exhibition was supposed to start at 11:30, by 12:30 they still weren’t set up. The glare of the sun made it hard to see many of the paintings in proper light but most were works on canvas.

In the afternoon part of the exhibition, the exhibition space was more or less empty with one or two visitors, who came for the purpose of lunch and stumbled upon these paintings. According to Tara Maria, the works left a lot to be desired and weren’t as great as she had looked forward to. However, this opportunity was a great platform for the artists to showcase their talent in a public forum.   ⊕

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