Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time - Thomas Merton
Bengaluru is teeming with artists of every kind. For the visual arts, there are several great places that showcase diverse works by artists - featuring both Bengalureans and out-of-towners!
National Gallery of Modern Art
The National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru was opened to the public in February 2009 at the Manikyavelu Mansion at 49 Palace Road, Bengaluru. The gracious heritage building, previously a residence, transformed into an art gallery with plenty of space for displays - both for its permanent collection and the periodic exhibitions. The work of Raja Ravi Verma, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil, Abanindranath Tagore, and Rabindranath Tagore can be seen here. It houses approximately 500 exhibits, spread through two floors of large halls, smaller rooms and corridors.
The picturesque Manikyavelu Mansion which houses the National Gallery of Modern Arts. Pic: Amoghavarsha JS
The exhibits at NGMA are all curated with great care, and are often retrospective, or tributes; but the gallery also works towards the future of art. They have workshops, outreach programmes, screenings and more - something for everyone. There is a small entrance fee (Rs 10) to the gallery, and some of their events are ticketed. NGMA is a must-visit for every Bengalurean with penchant for the arts.
More info here: http://ngmaindia.gov.in/ngma_bangaluru.asp
Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath
The Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, CKP, as we it is commonly referred to is an art-complex on Kumara Krupa Road, which has become one of the leading places in India for artists to showcase and sell their work. The complex even has a college of Fine Arts which is one of the country’s premier institutions for the visual arts.
CKP’s Art Mart is a collective that encourages both artists and appreciators of art to explore their interests. With 13 permanent museum galleries and more galleries rented out to other organisations, there is always something on display to suit all tastes. The permanent collections include Mysore paintings, leather puppets, sculptures, and the works of Russian artist, Roerich.
Chitra Santhe 2013, Pic: Rudreshwar Sen
The annual Chitra Santhe, organised by CPK, is a festival every artist and art lover in the city flocks to. Featuring works by artists, from across the country, this is also the place where many an amateur art lover has picked up their very first work of art. on artists.
More info here: www.karnatakachitrakalaparishath.com
Indian Institute of Cartoonists
Who doesn’t love cartoons? The first of its kind in India, the Indian Institute of Cartoonists was established in Bengaluru with the aim of promoting the art of cartooning in the country. It aims to recognise talent in the field of cartooning and reward them, showcase and preserve their art for future generations, guide young and budding cartoonists, and above all, popularise the art form among the masses.
So on your next trip to MG Road, be sure to drop by the cartoon gallery for some laughter and fun that cartoons bring with their caricatured social commentary.
More info: www.cartoonistsindia.com
Venkatappa Art Gallery
Venkatappa Art Gallery on Kasturba Road has a huge collection of paintings and sculptures. The gallery is attached to the Government Museum, so you can to check out the antiques and artifacts there as well. One part of the gallery is dedicated to the work of the Wodeyar court painter, K. Venkatappa (after whom the gallery is named).
It also hosts some watercolour paintings, fine wood carvings, pottery, clay articles, and stone sculptures from earlier periods of Indian history, while certain demonstrations and other exhibitions also take place in the gallery. The gallery also organises film screenigns and guided tours from time to time.
More info: www.artslant.com/ind/venues/show/16043-venkatappa-art-gallery
Alliance française de Bangalore
If you have visited the Alliance Française de Bengaluru (AFB), you may have noticed the paintings on the walls, especially in the atrium. AFB has been displaying exquisite paintings, sketches, photographs, and the like for years now, and one can easily spend an hour just looking at all the work on display. At present, the gallery features work by some of India’s budding young artists, as part of AFB’s Young Talent Program.
Artist Deepak K's Inhuman, on display at the AFB Atrium. Pic: fb.com/AllianceFrancaiseBangalore
AFB is not just restricted to French language lessons. It is a place that promotes various art forms, and should not be missed. Plan your trip to AFB such that you can check out at least one event happening there, be it a film screening, a musical performance, or a play, view the gallery and catch a bite to eat at the cafe.
More info: www.bangalore.afindia.org
Gallery Sumukha is nearly two decades old, and has developed from a mobile gallery to an established centre for artists to showcase their work in different media. From video to 3D printed objects, art at this gallery is never restricted, and the range of work you find here over the course of a year is astounding. Since it is tucked away on a small road in Wilson Garden, it feels like a secret gallery worth finding.
More info: www.sumukha.com
On the peaceful Berlie street in Langford Town, in a renovated beautiful old home is Galleryske. The pristine white gates are opened to any who love art. The gallery usually showcases one artist’s work, often dedicated to a particular form, for around a month. The gallery has four rooms which are adapted for each show. It is a calm and soothing place to view art.
More info: www.galleryske.com, www.fb.com/galleryskeindia
If you’ve been bitten by gallery bug, there are so many more you can visit - Galerie de’Arts, Gallery G, Kynkyny Art Gallery, Sublime Galleria, Art Houz, Tasveer, Mahua Art Gallery, Abstract Art Gallery, among others.
A map of Bengaluru's art galleries. Source: Google Maps
What’s is all the more encouraging for the city’s art scene is that cultural hotspots keep popping up every now and again. Several restaurants and cafes too are open to the idea of artists putting up their work and showcasing their talent in an informal way. Urban Solace, Coffee on Canvas, DYU art Cafe are among the many that offer budding artists a space.
So, which gallery do you plan to visit first? And here's what you can do once you have paid them a visit.
Here's wishing you a lovely time soaking in Bengaluru's art scene.