Artists fume

“The project, which has dragged on for the last ten years, has become a national waste. About 95 per cent of art students in the City — be it from Kent School, Chitrakala Parishat or Shrishti School of Art — wouldn’t even have visited Kalagrama for what little it has to offer presently. However, this is not the first collapse.

The Venkatappa Art Gallery could still become State’s pride. But thanks to red tape and lack of political will, the gallery, which could have attracted the artist community from across the globe, is instead languishing.”

He said the officialdom’s overbearing nature and interference was stifling. “The bureaucracy is more bothered about just finishing the project rather than making the art centre interactive. The bureaucrats should accept their limitations and instead of acting as decision-makers, they should act as facilitators between the artists’ community and the government,” he said.

Kumar said that to make Kalagrama a success, the government should emulate models of art centres like Khoj in New Delhi, and Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal.

Suresh Jayaram, artist and founder, director and curator of No 1 Shanthi Road, an art space that has been described as “an experimental space for cutting-edge art practices, and a free space to meet people,” is quite serious, when he says the government rather learn from his art centre than being clueless about what it is doing.

Shrouded in secrecy
“The entire Kalagrama project is shrouded in secrecy. None of the artists is even aware of what’s happening there and what the end result would be. Bangalore is alive and throbbing with a lot happening in the art world. But the government is being myopic.”

Noted artist S G Vasudev, who was instrumental in convincing the government to set up the ‘artist’s studio’, says it took him over three years to get the government to act on this proposal.

“It is extremely difficult to make the government work and the artist community is getting fed up. Something fantastic could have been created at Kalagrama; instead we find mammoth structures like the Suvarna Samskrutika Bhavan. I am not even sure who will use this building. We do not know if this space will help the visual art community.”

He said the government should allocate grants and allow artists to run the show. “The government has already proved that it cannot maintain art centres or museums, like in the case of the Venkatappa Art Gallery,” he added.

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