Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath is situated in the heart of Bangalore city (India), with beautiful vibrant premises. It was established in 1960 by the founder President late M. Arya Murthy and founder Secretary late Prof. M.S Nanjunda Rao. Karnataka Chitrakala Prishath is an Art Complex, operating in Bangalore from the mid-sixties as the leading center for Visual Arts. It is a land mark for visual culture in the city and the State. It comprise of a network of Museums, Galleries and Archives that display a valuable collection of Pan –Indian Visual Culture that includes Folk, Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Art.
CKP is already a tourist spot, a center for visual discourse and space for visiting artists from all over the globe. Also hosting a College of Fine Arts,Undergraduation, Post –Graduation and Research Program in Visual Arts for Indian and foreign students, the center has the capacity to become world class museum complex that can reflect the passion of those who contribute to its establishment; enrich the manner in which art history is seen and understood by audiences; and also become a learning space for students and visitors. Current understanding of curatorial and conservation fields, along with available technology and resources can play in enhancing the already popular center further.
Nicholas Roerich (9th October 1874—13th December 1947), known also as Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich – was a Russian painter, writer, archaeologist, theosophist, enlightener, philosopher; and public figure. His son, Dr.Svetoslav Roerich, who was a supporter of the development of Chitrakala Parishath, donated 117 paintings to the Parishath in the year 1990. It was decide that this collection of paintings of both Prof. Nicholas Roerich and his son Svetoslav Roerich would be on a permanent display in the Galleries. The N Roerich gallery holds Himalaya studies of Nicholas.
Artistically, he became known as his generation’s most talented painter of Russia’s ancient past that was compatible with his lifelong interest in Archaeology. He became known in India for his series of studies of the Himalayas. The medium used in these paintings is tempera; the colours in shades of luminous blue afford the works an ethereal and spiritual atmosphere.
Svetoslav Nikolayevich Roerich, Russian painter, son of Nicholas Roerich, studies from a young age under his father’s tutelage. He studies architecture in England in 1919 and entered Columbia University’s school of architecture in 1920. He spent most of his life in India, moving between homes in Naggar in the Himalayas and the outskirts of Bangalore.
The work displayed in this gallery range from portraits to depictions of the picturesque Kulu valley. There are also several works with biblical themes. His paintings explore the mythic origins, the natural beauty, and the spiritual strivings of humanity of nature. The pictorial element that he tried to absorb from traditional Indian paintings is often compared to Amrita Sher Gill’s melancholy figures from Indian village life. Roerich’s paintings of former Prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi adorn the Central Parliament Hall in New Delhi. He was married to Devika Rani, called the ‘First Lady of Indian Cinema. Several of her portraits are included in the display.
In 1995, Mr. H.K.Kejriwal, art connoisseur and collector, donated his family’s art collections which were then displayed in spacious galleries in the Parishath.
Gallery one and two of the Kejriwal collection hold an extensive number of works dating from 1800s to the 1950s. The folk paintings, Kalighat drawings, Santhal Pat (scrolls) and Patta Chitra rolls are housed in gallery one along with a collection of caricatures by Gagendranath Tagore and also several graphic prints, aquatints and lithographs, including those by the Daniels. The works of Ramkinker Baij, Binod Behari Mukherjee, Abhanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher Gil, S.H.Raza and Jamini Roy can be seen in this gallery that holds work that is distinctive of the Nationalist art movement in Bengal and the building of an Indian modernist expression.
Mr. Kejriwal’s donations consist of about 300 paintings, prints, drawings and 65 sculptures. The Avant Garde of Indian modern art, both painting and sculpture, are the highlight of gallery two in the Kejriwal collection. Paintings and sculptures by Indian’s foremost artists are displayed in the gallery showcasing the widening concerns and practices of several generations of artists.
In the third gallery displaying the Kejriwal collection, there is a grouping of paintings called the Pan Indian Panorama; this collection consists of work by the progressive artists group as well as the generations to follow through until the 90s. The works of S.G.Vasudev, Yusuf Arakkal, Anjoli Ela Menon, G.R.Iranna, Laxma Goud and others are part of the display including artists who belonged to different artistic schools and geographic regions in India.
In 1998-99 a sculpture gallery was also added to the Parishath complex. The collection of sculptures in the galleries of the Parishath has works of artists like Sunil Das, Shyamal Dutta Roy, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Bimal Kundu and Meera Mukherjee. Most of these artists were part of a movement initiated to indigenize the sculptural movement after the deep impact of the colonial period. In the beginning of the 20th century all conventional definitions of art were being systematically challenged, and in India, modern sculptors were grappling with problems of form and content, idiom and expression. The sculptures housed here are of different mediums-terracotta, bronze, fiberglass, ceramic etc. The gallery also contains drawings and sketches from many artists.
Srikanta Shastry Kukke was one of the founders of the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. He also played an important part in the conception of the Chitrakala Vidyalaya. He studied at the Chamarajendra technical Institute (CTI) in Mysore. Coming from a family of scholars, his works have an obvious attachment to Traditional arts and literature. He has attempted to transform sequences from literary works into images that can easily be read. The method he used to execute his works was the Wash method, followed by the Bengal School. He copied Murals of Lepakshi, Shravanabelagola and Banasthali in Rajasthan. Two of the Lepakshi mural copies are housed in the Galleries of the Parishath part of this collection. The collections of works that are currently in the galleries were donated upon his death in 1991.
Dr. Krishna Reddy, printmaker and artist donated a large collection of his prints to the Parishath, which are housed in a gallery as a set. He is well-known for his experimentation with viscosity printing which revolutionized intaglio printing and ensured his place in the history of Graphic arts practice. Schooled in both India and the West, his work combines the technologies of different cultures. Virtually every major museum with a prints collection in the world includes examples of his work. His work reflects a deep interest in abstraction and geometry.
The collection of Mysore traditional style of paintings split between two gallery spaces holds about 109 works. Dating from the 19th century, the paintings are largely representations of Mythological figures and also the Royal lineage of Mysore. Mysore painting is an important form of classical South Indian painting evolved from the paintings of Vijayanagar times during the reign of the Vijayanagar Kings (1336-1565AD). The rulers of Vijayanagar and their feudatories encouraged literature, art, architecture, religious and philosophical discussions. With the fall of the Vijayanagar empire after the Battle of Talikota the artists who were till then under royal patronage migrated to various other places like Mysore, Tanjore, Surpur and other principalities, absorbing the local artistic traditions and customs. The works in the collection of the Parishath have all been executed on specially treated paper and the colors used are mineral and vegetable dyes with the use of gesso and gold. The technique is true to textual prescriptions. There is skill displayed in innovations both in theme and technique. A highlighted piece on this floor is a genealogical chart of the Wodeyars of Mysore; also beautiful representations of Durga (Chamundeshwari), Vishnu and his incarnations, Rama and Sita, Lord Shiva and other mythological figures.
On the second level (lower) there is a painting of the Dussera procession along with a collection of dolls. Another feature of this collection is a series of fine line drawings executed in the Mysore traditional style. This style saw its crystallization during the time of Vijayanagara. It was under the patronage of Krishna raja Wodeyar III that the work achieved its unique identity. The themes of these works are usually epics and myths, associated with local histories and the epics.
The stairwell walls contain an assortment of works in the traditional and folk styles (largely Gond paintings). There is also a series of English book illustrations in the form of engraving prints with the corresponding text pages. They are part of the Kejriwal collection.
The Gallery of International Art also donated by Mr. H.K.Kejriwal displays works by modern and contemporary artists like Rauschenberg, Lee Waisler, Michel Morris, Rich Arnold, Gardon Bradt, Dolino and others. While most of them are paintings and drawings, there are four sculptures included.
The Folk Art Gallery houses leather and string puppets, Chamba rumals from Kangra and Chamba, Kathi embroidery from Gujarat, Kantha art and folk art paintings from West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, Ganjifa cards, Gond tribal paintings, artefacts from Bastar and Nagaland and many others. The collection focuses not only well-known practices but also some relatively unknown tribal art forms as well. There are pieces of utilitarian art and also ritual art and objects. A number of folk communities and tribes around India have been able to preserve their own artistic traditions; this is despite situations of urbanization and commercialization that are causing the loss of artistic traditions.
One can view, under a single roof, leather puppets of Karnataka, the Worli paintings of Maharashtra, folk paintings of Tamil Nadu, pithoras made by Rathwa, Bhil, and the Saura tribes, Assamese folk art, Naga wooden sculptures, kathis of Gujarat, Santhal art, Gond tribal paintings, Bastar folk art, Madhubani paintings, patachitras from Orissa, Kurumba tribal art, Khonde sculptures, Meena tribal paintings, Phad paintings, patha paintings of Kumaon, reverse glass paintings, mica paintings, besides astrological scrolls, masks, ganjifas, dolls and embroidery work. There are also a large number of sculptures manufactured by the ghadwa metal casters of Bastar. These are cast using the lost wax process and consist primarily symbolic offerings and representation of local Gods. In addition to these there are items of Utilitarian and ornamental value. Additionally, a few tableaus represent village settings and natural environments of the tribes.
Togalu Gombeyaata translates to a play of leather dolls in Kannada; it is a form of shadow puppetry. Prof Nanjunda Rao, founder and visionary of Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath with deep interest in the tradition made an admirable collection of leather puppets, a few of which are displayed. Research on the subject of leather puppets has been ongoing at the Institution. Goat hide and deer skin are generally used for making these puppets since they have the characteristic of transparency and can easily absorb colours. The raw hide is treated to remove hair and other impurities and then dried. Then colours are applied using locally available vegetable dyes. Red, blue, green and black colours are usually used. The hide is then cut into appropriate shapes and joined together using strings and small sticks for best mobility. The maximum size of the puppet is 4 x 3 feet and the minimum is 6 x 3 inches. The puppets are usually characters from the Hindu epics – the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The collection also contains forms of British soldiers and characters from the colonial period. Also housed in the gallery are numerous Mysore dolls, figureines in clay and ceramic, masks and an assortment of votive items, instruments and tools.
The staircase and entrance foyer to the galleries contain mostly contemporary folk art paintings of the patachitra tradition. These showcase mythological scenes with a mix of secular imagery. The staircase landing showcases a large sculptural panel by Tejendra Singh Baoni as well as large size canvases by the Japanese artist Shin Kitamura.
Apart from the thirteen permanent museum galleries, five other galleries are permanently rented out to quality exhibition of works of artists and art from various parts of not only India but also of international bearing. Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance Francaise, consulates of various other countries find CKP galleries to be an ideally suited location to host exhibitions in Bangalore. Central and State Lalitkala Academy have been permanently hosting their exhibitions at CKP.
Many young artists from various parts of the country find CKP the best venue to exhibit. Folk and Traditional art forms are shown not only inside these five galleries, but also the overall campus is being used on special occasion that does not exclude the Open Theatre. CKP galleries are also served as venue to many historic artistic occassions. Joseph Beuys and the like have been exhibited, in original at this venue.
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