Art is the desire of a human to express oneself, to record reactions of his personality, to the world he lives in — Amy Lowell.
When it comes to recording and etching one’s feelings, the common man has always been known to illustrate love, angst and in some cases, creative nudes in public places, walls, monuments and other mundane spaces. Besige Sambhrama is an exhibition celebrating the public graphic art culture of Bengaluru. Artists and art forums like Amitabh Kumar, Annirudh Abhyankar, Anpu, Archana Prasad, Arzu Mistry, Badal, Chandranath Acharya, Dead the Duck, Geechu Gallus, George Mathen, Guess Who, Murugan Arts, Poornima Sukumar, Rajkamal Arts, Rabbit Hole Radicals, Shashidhara Adapa, Shilo Shiv Suleiman, Stallone, Ullas Hydoor, Yash Bhandari, etc have all come together on a broad platform to discuss and engage in this unique topic which has never really got its due in the recent years.
The exhibition is a response to a growing momentum of Public Graphic Art practices in the city. The gallery functions to hold together varied tangents and approaches of how the city itself is evoked by the many practices that mark it. To Scratch the Surface explores the mark, the surface that is marked and the hand that marks it.
There are no frames around a mural suggesting where the image begins, and the city ends. The experience of viewing public graphic art is akin to the experience of being in a city. In an attempt at being consistent with this pulsating sense of urban life, the exhibition has been designed as a live unforgettable experience that changes every day, with the ever-growing urbanscape. In one such module of the show, they invite a different artist each day to recreate not only what their graphic practice is — but also their larger relationship to the city in terms of both space and place. In addition to this, there is also an outdoor event programme focusing on a more visceral relationship with the city which includes walks, presentations and other conversations. Speaking about the event one of the contemporary artists in the showing, Raghu Wodeyar explains, “After the VAGFORUM protest to save Venkatappa Art Gallery from privatisation, we thought about changing the notions of the general public towards Venkatappa as a hobby art displaying space. We wanted to make this a contemporary art space, to invite more artists to do shows. This is why these are a series of six shows initially, which will be held periodically in a span of 45 days.” It is so enticing and exciting to see artists of the city come up and think of utilising space creatively in this manner. Venkatappa Art Gallery is in good hands now — By the artists, for and of the artists. The show ends on the April 25.
The writer is an art expert and curator.