Art gallery in Mangalore a mirage

A long time eclipse seems to haunt the forum of artists from South Canara district, thanks to the district administration, which has left artists in maroons by keeping them away from encouragement and hence a full fledged art gallery for the district has become a mirage.

The irony of the context is that artists have to arrange halls and galleries for an exhibition of their creative works, combating many shortcomings such as making suitable adjustments with respect to space, time and demographic situations, arising due to the unavailability of halls which are best suited for painting exhibitions. Also, the composition of light inside the expo hall or gallery must be given a great attention, failing of which will spoil the very purpose of exhibition, because, when the paintings reflect light, one could hardly grasp the expressions hidden in the art. If the artists are lucky enough, with the sponsorship of art patrons, they may get an opportunity to exhibit their paintings in some of the best art galleries located in Bangalore or Delhi.

The best quality exhibition could only be achieved through a specialised gallery with proper lighting arrangements.  Also, the vastness of gallery matters. All these made necessary the establishment of Prasad Art Gallery in Mangalore 25 years ago, by the initiation of Kotiprasad Alva and his like minded - artist companions. However, all the standard criteria cannot be met as only small scale exhibitions could be conducted in the limited space of the gallery and artists cannot afford to rent private auditoriums, galleries etc.

Senior artist Ganesh Somayaji speaking to Deccan Herald said that things have not been easy for the artists of the district while striving for the establishment of gallery meant for painting exhibitions. “I remember the days 25 years ago when Prasad Art Gallery was not founded, artists, left with no other choices, used to rent auditoriums for their painting exhibitions and it was nothing but an excuse to drain the pockets. An individual exhibition resulted in making the artist’s wallet thinner by several thousand rupees. Besides, one had to cover the windows with cloth or paper sheets to avoid the excess light in order to prevent shining. Unfortunately, still many artists cannot make it up to the rental charges of halls, auditoriums and are compelled to do group exhibitions encompassing 15 to 20 artists,” he said.

Absence of courtesy

Kotiprasad Alva, President of Karavali Chitrakala Chavadi, a forum formed by visual artists  of Dakshina Kannada speaking with Deccan Herald told that it has not been later since eight months when a proposal with regard to the establishment of a full fledged art gallery in the long awaited District Rangamandira, was submitted to the then Deputy Commissioner Channapa Gowda. “When the DC was about to consider the proposal, he got a transfer and the new DC took charge. The same cycle is getting repeated for the last several years, with the tenure of six DC’s completing and all our efforts have gone in vain till now,” he commented.

“Our preference is an art gallery which supports all kinds of art and cultural activities such as dance, music, drama etc and should include a full fledged art gallery with all the specifications suitable for art expo of paintings. The plan of the  district Rangamandira, opposite to Kadri Park doesn’t seem to be realised , though the ground breaking ceremony is being held every year. And also, there is no clue of reserved place for an art gallery in the building. Hence, the place for the art gallery proposed by us is planned to be at Bondel and the decision is drawn during the meeting of artists and top officials concerned. Artists themselves have prepared several sketches of the building and included it in the proposal, which has failed to draw response from the administration,” he added.

No will power

The unusual delay of Government department concerned sends a strong signal that the preservation of art and encouragement of artists is not at all a headache of the district administration.  If the Government wants to do it, they can certainly do it. Look at the Art Gallery built in Puttur Balavana. It has all the facilities, complimentary to the growth of an artist. The good work of Udupi District Administration is applaudable in this regard.

If Udupi District Administration can do it, why can’t Dakshina Kannada District Administration do it? Somayaji laments.

It also shows how our people have become insensitive to our cultural issues and hence artists also are failing to build rapport with people and are forced to make compromise with hard situations coming in the way, he adds. Though Dakshina Kannada has cradled thousands of great artists, who marked the name of the district in international map, it is unfortunate that the district administration is doing almost nothing in favour of artists.

Ray of hope

However, the silver lining in the cloud is that the department of Kannada and Culture is lending its full support to the Chavadi. Kannada and Culture Department District Director Mangala Nayak had an interaction with artists long ago and chaired meetings with officials concerned, which gives a ray of hope.

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