When Modern meets Contemporary
Venkatappa Art Gallery and Informal Art Education in Bangalore
Public spaces and institutions have often been linked when it comes to art practice in Bangalore. Whether it was the large-scale earthworks or the appropriation of heritage spaces taken on by artists, the spaces occupied by the public and the public art institutions have had a strong impact on the ways art gets produced in the city. There is also an additional element of reclaiming public spaces that is the struggle of most cities today. Since February this year, the artist community of Bangalore has protested against the move made by the government to 'hand over' the Venkatappa Art Gallery to a private entity. This has spurred a lot of conversations about public spaces and public resources in the city, specifically, in relation to art. Art history and the 'teaching of art' have often been celebrated as an achievement of European scholarship. It is true that a number of institutions set up to teach art in India are a colonial legacy, but what emerged post-independence is a culture of rejecting European aesthetics and trying to form a national one if it were. And in our era of postmodern/postcolonial awareness, there is a fluidity in the conduct of the institutions and in the understanding of public spaces that have contributed to the aesthetic of the contemporary artist. In the light of the recent events, this paper will examine the ways in which the art gallery and later the freeform collectives serve as educational spaces for students and subsequently, explore the implications of the lack of such spaces in the practice of art in contemporary times.