Muralidharan Khajane | The Hindu | February 20, 2016
On February 8, 1970, artist G.S. Shenoy and others held an art exhibition on the pavement of the Bible Society of India (currently Anil Kumble Circle) to draw the government’s attention on the need for a public gallery for artists to showcase their works. This resulted in the current Venkatappa Art Gallery on Kasturba Road.
After 46-years, Gurudas Shenoy, son of G.S. Shenoy, is resisting the attempt of the State government to allow the adoption of the gallery by a private foundation under a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project.
An MoU has been signed between the Tourism Department and the Tasveer Foundation. However, now the artists’ community is divided over the issue.
Venkatappa Art Gallery Forum, comprising artists, curators, art managers, collectors and writers, have appealed to the government against allowing the adoption.
The core group of the forum will meet on Saturday to discuss the issue and decide on the future course of action.
They will meet Tourism Minister R.V. Deshpande and express their concern over the issue, said Chi. Su. Krishna Setty, former chairperson, Karnataka Lalitakala Academy (KLA) and coordinator of forum. “It appears to me that the government is sacrificing the interests of the artist community by succumbing to corporate lobby,” claimed Mr. Krishna Setty, noting that artists who are paying Rs.500 a day for exhibiting works might have to shell out much more.
Mr. Shenoy, while admitting the urgent need to improve the infrastructure at the gallery, said the solution was not corporatisation. “By doing so, we defeat the very purpose of founding the gallery and compromise with the interest of artist community,” he said. “Either government can either hand over the gallery to a committee of artists to manage or ask Karnataka Lalitkala Academy to maintain the gallery.”
M.S. Murthy, chairperson, KLA, said this was acceptable to the academy. “The academy will certainly accept the responsibility and improve the condition of Gallery,” he said.
However, another section of artists have no objections to the CSR plans. Artist S.G. Vasudev emphasises the need to look at the issue practically rather than emotionally.
Noting that it is difficult for the artist community to run and maintain a gallery, he suggested that the artists’ forum ask the government to form a trust. He suggested artists meet representatives of Tasveer Foundation to understand what their plans were.