More art, less text: The art of international cartoons

An arresting work by Chinese cartoonist Li Hai Feng

Satire dripped in arresting imagery, 21 Chinese cartoonists get visually vocal to dominate the entry list of an Indian competition.

The jury at the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC) here had to dive deep into a rich pool of 69 international cartoons to ferret out the very best in creativity, thematic relevance and textual brevity.

Cartoonists know exactly where to draw the line. But how they do it with minimum reliance on textual support is what makes these Chinese, European and Iranian cartoons stand out. The jury is out on this, as a refreshing new show of international cartoons get set for a rollicking May 5 launch.

Head straight to the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC) cartoon gallery off MG Road to get a taste of international humour, subtle yet dramatic, saucy yet endearingly universal. Sundays remain closed, but catch the show any day before May 26. The exhibition kicks off on International Cartoonists Day.

Sixty-nine foreign cartoonists had lined up for the Maya Kamath Memorial Award, organised recently by IIC. Every entry, including the winning one, will be on show. The jury had a tough time choosing the best. Jury head, noted actor and playwright Girish Karnad found the spread across the world gratifying, and the quality upgrade enormous this year.

In their visual originality, presentation and universal themes, these cartoons strike a distinct chord. "The ideation is different, the message very clear. These cartoonists use very few words," points out V G Narendra, IIC's managing trustee and a veteran cartoonist.

Being trained artists, they opt for a lot of detailing in their works, notes Gujjarappa, also a key jury member. "They prefer their cartoons to look like paintings. This is especially so among European and Iranian cartoonists."

To transcend national boundaries and yet stay relevant and contemporary, most cartoons in the competition have preferred to minimise captions. "It is very difficult to make captionless cartoons. Eighty per cent of the works are without any words," says Gujjarappa, a versatile tweaker of the art.

When: May 5 to 26 (Sundays closed)
Where: Indian Cartoon Gallery, No 1, Midford House, Midford Garden, off MG Road, Trinity Circle, Bengaluru - 560001

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