Having enjoyed painting signboards and hoardings, Manjunath now has a Robert Bosch grant.
From painting signboards (being clueless about a career to choose) to bagging the prestigious Robert Bosch Art Grant, 25-year-old Manjunath has made a historical journey. Today, Manjunath is also involved in the BBMP's mega project of painting murals on walls to beautify the city.
After completing his PUC, Manjunath began helping his brother at work, painting signboards. “There was no pressing financial constraint that forced us to take up the job. I used to enjoy painting hoardings. In the course of these assignments, I decided that studying art would help me in showcasing the tribulations that people face in their everyday life. I decided to enrol for fine arts in college.”
That decision shocked his parents and they tried their best to dissuade him. “My parents wanted me to stick to a conventional career as they were not very sure that fine arts would provide a steady income. I managed to convince them and enrolled at the Chetan College of Fine Arts in the city.”
“In the course of my assignments, I had to present a series of live sketches. I decided to complete these sketches at the City Railway Station at Majestic.”
“Over a period of time, I got hooked to making live sketches of commuters using the trains, the scenes that unfold at the station when a train arrives, the waiting passengers etc. Many people were impressed and asked me to create their portraits. I used to spend most of my evenings at Majestic drawing these sketches.”
The long hours he spent at the station has also landed him in some tight spots. “Once, at two in the night, some policeman grew suspicious and took me to the police station. Once I explained my hobby, one of the officers asked me to draw a portrait and let me go immediately.”
Art for the common man
After graduating, Manjunath took up the post graduate programme at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. “The programme at the Parishath was excellent. It has the best teachers in art and also has a massive collection of literature on paintings and sculptures. It has helped enhance my understanding of the subject.”
With the monetary benefits of the Robert Bosch grant, awarded in recognition of the contribution of young and upcoming talents in the various fields of fine arts, he aims at bringing art to the common man. “The common man involved in his day-to-day pursuits plays a key role in many of my paintings. I feel that it is important that art is not restricted to big art galleries. I plan to exhibit these paintings at key points in the Majestic area. I hope that this will bring art closer to the common man and help evince interest in the fine arts.”
Apart from painting, Manjunath is also interested in making a documentary film on the Gowribidanoor incident of 1930, where police had gunned down nearly 32 people involved in the national movement. He contends, “Some aspects of the freedom struggle have not been documented well. I plan to create more awareness about the incident.”
He is also interested in photography and says that the photograph is an evolution of painting. “Creative people are the best equipped to frame a shot. The only advantage that the painter holds is that he could easily blank out undesirable elements. That is more taxing for a photographer.”