Heartbreak for artists as Bengaluru loses national art exhibition to Chennai

Heartbreak for artists as Bengaluru loses  national art exhibition to Chennai

The city has lost the opportunity to host the 58th National Exhibition of Art, a prestigious art show organised by the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA). The event will now be held in Chennai at the LKA regional centre.

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) was supposed to host the event but backed out due to absence of approval from the Union Ministry of Culture. “We were supposed to take control of the gallery by January 15. Lack of communication has already delayed the event. It is a time-bound activity, hence we have decided to change the venue,” said Chi Su Krishna Setty, administrator of LKA.

In December 2016, NGMA director Sathyabhama Badreenath had written to LKA saying, “In the absence of the approval from MOC, this office is not in a position to consider your proposal of holding the 58th National Exhibition of Art at NGMA Bengaluru.”

Setty said that LKA then wrote to the director general of NGMA, New Delhi but did not receive any reply. “We waited for months. All we needed was the space. We have experts to take care of everything such as transportation, display and removal. But unfortunately, they refused, citing approval,” Setty said. Other states were queuing up for the opportunity to host artists who are cream of the cream, he said. The 111 artists were selected after screening over 6,000 applicants from across the country.

A former member of the advisory panel for NGMA, Bengaluru, said that they could have consulted the advisory panel and need not have sought the approval of the ministry.

The artist community in the state is deeply disappointed. Manjunath Kalledevar, convenor of the Karnataka Artists’ Forum said: “As both the LKA and NGMA come under the central government, there should not have been a communication gap. I do not understand how this happened. We don’t know when we will get such an opportunity again.” The city had last hosted the NEA in 2001. He stressed that if Karnataka had a regional centre of LKA, this situation would not have come up.

LKA also had a plan to call the selected artists for an 80-day workshop at the exhibition venue. Bengaluru artist Ganesh Doddamani said, “The public could have watched the best sculptors, painters, photographers and graphic artists at work. Art students could have interacted with them and learned about their technique. But now it is too late.”

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