Last year was a good year for established artists in Bangalore, as the city hosted some memorable exhibitions by well-known names. And there is more good stuff to come, writes Harshini Vakkalanka

Most gallery owners would agree that though last year saw some great art up on display, it was not a good year for sales. The year began on a great note, with Ramkinkar Baij’s retrospective at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). The exhibition was memorable for its well-planned curation, complete with helpful commentary, and for the wide body of works that was on display including large blow-ups of sculptures that could not be brought in.

Later in the year, one also got to meet and view Akbar Padamsee’s works at Gallery Time and Space. Though the exhibition was slightly limited in range of works—there were only sketches of his signature heads, the presence of the artist made up for it. The gallery’s earlier exhibition of works by Lalu Prasad Shaw on the other hand, was more enriching, in the works on display and the response. His paintings showed Bengali men and women in a charming “everyday life” setting.

Meanwhile, Tasveer had a series of interesting exhibitions throughout the year, displaying photographers from across the world including Norman Parkinson, the fashion photographer; Sebastian Cortes, another fashion and commercial photographer whose is also known for this book projects and Raghu Rai, which showcased some of his most memorable moments.

“2012 was a busy and exciting year for Tasveer; we upped our activity significantly by not only doing more exhibitions (adding Jodhpur and Chennai to our circuit) but also by doing more collaborations, bigger openings and much more in the press too - be it syndicating photo essays or working with writers to provide a critical framework around our curatorial projects,” says Nathaniel of Tasveer. “In all these activities our aim is to expose the work of the photographers we represent to as wide an audience as possible; promoting international photography in India, and Indian photography abroad.” Tasveer has also set up a digital exhibition space— Tasveer Online.

Gallery Ske, known for its “cutting-edge” contemporary art, also had a good year showcasing artists such as Sheela Gowda and the duo Pors and Rao (Soren Pors and Aparna Rao). These shows were interspersed by a slightly more offbeat but significant exhibition of comic and graphic art by Gokul Gopalakrishnan, Appupen, and E.P.Unny.

2012 also saw the opening of some new art spaces, the most exciting of which is Gallery Five Forty Five in Indira Nagar, which hosted some interesting art and photography by artists like Paresh Hazra, Clare Arni and Urmila VG.

Another exhibition that deserves mention is “The World Upside Down” by Phillipe Ramette, which stars the artist in photographs that display his gravity-defying stunts.

“In 2012, we largely exhibited local artists, though we showed Samir Mondal and Phillipe Ramette. It was a slow year since the market is down. I don’t see it improving in the near future, so it is a difficult situation for the gallery,” says Pramila Lochan of Gallery Sumukha. She believes affordable art by young artists, could offer some respite. These are readily available in some of the more commercial art spaces in the city such as the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath’s galleries.

Art consultant Franck Brathelemy, believes that 2012 was good in terms of the number of exhibitions, but he picks out only a handful of good shows at Gallery Ske, Tasveer, Gallery Time and Space and Gallery Sumukuha, apart from the Ramkinkar Baij retrospective. “They organized some good shows last year. I’m also happy to see that Gallery Five Forty Five is organizing some interesting shows.But sales in 2012 was low for young and middle-level artists, the only exceptions were the superstar artists,” he adds

Enthusiasts can look forward to shows by Tasveer, which is already showcasing photographs by Maïmouna Guerresi; Gallery Five Forty Five and Gallery Time and Space. Five Forty Five will be showing “RE: PUBLIC”, starting January 12. The show will have drawings, paintings and installations by Estee Oarsed, Ravi Kumar Kashi, Shivanand B., Anthony Roche and Pradeep Kumar D.M, put together by Lina Vincent Sunish.