Gallery of illustrated surprises

Cartoons

Tucked away in a narrow lane away from the hustle and bustle of Bengaluru’s MG Road, the Indian Cartoon Gallery (ICG) has been gradually initiating many into the world of cartooning. Started in 2007 by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC), the gallery creates a space for both amateur and professional cartoonists to exhibit their work.

An unassuming space located in the heart of the city, the Indian Cartoon Gallery is a perfect place for anyone looking to know more about cartoons, learn about it and support the cartooning community at the national and state level. 

The main reason for V G Narendra, the managing trustee of the IIC, to establish this institute is to unite cartoonists across the country under a single organisation. “For a long time, despite cartoons being popular, there was no national-level
organisation to represent the cartoonists. Hence, it was important to have such an organisation that not only support cartoonists but also enable the art form to grow stronger and flourish. This led to the IIC being formed in India in 2001,” says V G Narendra.

Setting a stage

The IIC is said to be the only place in the country that is working towards making cartooning more accessible, giving space for budding and established cartoonists to thrive side by side, promoting cartooning among laypersons, facilitating and training upcoming cartoonists. The institute constitutes a space of 5,000 sq ft for conducting exhibitions, a library to store artwork and conference hall to convene talks and discourses.

Different types of cartoons drawn by both amateur and professional cartoonists are displayed in the Indian Cartoon Gallery. These include political, pocket, strip, caricature, comics, illustrations and doodle.

The gallery has exhibited works of luminaries like RK Laxman and Mario Miranda and also has hosted two American, a British, a Japanese, a Hungarian, a Norwegian and a Turkish exhibition. Such exhibitions allow visitors to get exposure to a variety of new styles and themes, and perhaps add to their learning. What’s more, cartoonists can exhibit their work for free at the gallery.

Whatever is exhibited here is then carefully archived and as a result, they have around 12,000 original display of cartoons and illustrations in their archives.

The gallery also provides new or aspiring cartoonists with an opportunity to learn from the best. Which is why the gallery conducts cartooning workshops regularly.

These workshops teach participants the history of cartooning, and how to draw cartoons for various themes like politics, caricatures, pocket cartoons, cartoon strips, doodles and animation. The only requirement that they look out for is basic drawing skills.

To supplement their understanding of the subtle art form of cartooning, the gallery also houses a small library which racks invaluable resources to researchers, students, and budding cartoonists who want to learn more about cartooning, its history and develop cartooning skills as well as to collect and preserve original and award-winning works of leading cartoonists worldwide.

Joining hands

Acknowledging this desirable cause, many cartoonists and cartoon enthusiasts have donated many of their collections to the library. For example, Prabhakar Raobail, a popular cartoonist from Kerala, has donated hundreds of copies of Punch magazine and a popular British cartoon magazine of World War II among others.

Another popular cartoonist, illustrator and filmmaker, Bapu, is said to have donated around 550 cartoon books and American and British publications to the cartoon gallery. “We have nearly 2000 books in various languages including English, Kannada, Hindi and Tamil,” shares Narendra. These include those by RK Laxman, Abu Abraham, David Low, Shankaran Kutty, KR Swamy, William Hogarth and Frederick Joss.

The Indian Cartoon Gallery is open from 10 am to 6 pm every day, except on Sundays, and can be contacted at 080-41758540.

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