Gearing up for the new edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale, its artistic director Bose Krishnamachari reflects on his journey so far.

Having never succumbed to boundaries, not even when he was expelled for voicing criticism against Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, where he was studying, why would he now when things are going his way. With the first edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) proving immensely successful, scepticism and allegations of corruption are behind Bose Krishnamachari. He, along with fellow artist Riyas Komu and the support of State Government of Kerala, established KMB, a biennale that the art scene so badly needed. The master stroke that it turned out to be, a more “confident” Bose (Artistic Director of KMB and President, Kochi Biennale Foundation, KBF) with Riyas (Director of Programmes, KMB and Co-founder of KBF), is now preparing for the next edition of the biennale slated to be held later this year. In the personal sphere of art making too Bose continues to push the envelope. A Nano that he recently painted went under the hammer for Rs.13 lakhs. Now, the artist has contributed to the Kingfisher Calendar 2014; the swimsuits of the models are based on his series ‘Stretched Bodies’ that has been evolving over the years. The Mumbai-based artist talks about his life as an artist and art-administrator.

On artists as art-administrators

I believe artists can be good art administrators too. I like to work in chaos. Indians generally are very good at chaos management, at people management. My work is also like that…order and chaos.

On selecting Jitish Kallat as the curator of the next Biennale

Riyas and I had curated the 2012 Biennale. Though we are not following any particular international biennale model, having a new curator every time remains a standard practice every where. We wanted an artist-curator who understands practice and theory at the same time and Jitish as a creative person comprehends that well. A team of distinguished people like Gita Kapur, Balan Nambiar etc. agreed to have him on board.

On the journey of Kochi-Muziris Biennale

People have developed confidence. Wherever I travel, people ask me if they can contribute, if they can be of some help. It’s amazing to see this turnaround because till the very last moment, people had doubts. I had people asking me if the Biennale will happen. Now people are curious to know when is it happening next. KPMG is doing a study on the biennale, which is a big thing in itself. Then the Google Art Project has archived and digitised the entire biennale, which is a first for any biennale. It’s a good answer to all those who had levelled all these allegations against us. There was imagined criticism and now there is no possibility of any critique because there is evidence and there are facts. Looking at its scale — it is the longest biennale in the world — if you compare it with other biennales, you would realize how modest a budget we had. We spent about Rs. 3 crores on Durbar Hall, which belongs to the State Government, and don’t forget that after it was revamped it was returned to the Government. The whole affair is also a fine example of such a successful private-public partnership. I think, people will donate more liberally this time.

On ‘Stretched bodies’ — the series that he started working on during his college days (Sachin Tendulkar possesses one of the works from it)

Mondrian was lingering over one line in his painting, in the studio. Painting and repainting it. There was a girl in the studio and asked him why is he doing so, to which he said, “I am stretching the line.” So the basic concept comes from there but I have extended it to the realm of body. ‘Stretched bodies’ comes from all over the place. It’s all about maximum colours that come from my roots in Kerala and Bombay where I now live. Its abstract and what can you talk about it? A Gaitonde’s work can only be experienced and not talked about.

Even earlier when I was showing, I wouldn’t adhere to any boundaries. People would get confused if I would do some realistic works and ask me why did I make a switch from abstract to realistic but these boundaries never existed for me because of my exposure to different disciplines. I used to do absurd theatre and then interacting with poets, filmmakers, philosophers and artists very early on in life led me to blur the lines. And now you see everybody is doing everything. A sculptor is making paintings, a painter is making installations and so on.

OTHER PROJECTS

Bose is also curating the India pavilion in the new Platform section at Art Stage Singapore 2014 to be held from January 15-19. The pavilion will have six projects — by Pooja Iranna, Raghava KK, Paribartana Mohanty, Jitish Kallat, Sahej Rahal and Sakshi Gupta.

He is also curating the Indian section for the residency programme of the Vancouver Biennale 2014.

A book on the KMB 2012 is also in the making. KBF plans to release it during the India Art Fair slated to happen from January 30 to February 2, 2014.

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