Kalagrama aims to popularise art and allow artists a steady pay

A Yakshagana artiste releases an airplane into the air – the painting, “Kudla goes International”, emotes the jubilant mood in the city after the first international flight took off from the Mangalore airport in 2006.

And for the artist, Vishwas Krishna (22), who has been painting over the past decade, the step allows artists like him to access the international audience.

From a rather simplistic painting of an elegant cheetah in pose, to the symbolic hand being pulled up ,a heart depicting the struggles of the common man breaking the shackles of society, Mr. Krishna exhibits nearly 40 of his acrylic colour art works at “Strokes of Youth” that was inaugurated at Prasad Art Gallery here on Saturday.

Amid brightly coloured imagery of nature, paintings such as the recreation of “Ardhanarishwara” – the union of Shiva and Parvati into one figurine – displayed the wide range of interests of the budding artist.

Mr. Krishna, who is pursuing his masters in commerce at Mangalore University and a violinist, says since he started at the age of 12, his works have taken more serious themes, from a depiction of nature to liberation from society.

His first painting, a painting of a cheetah, was well appreciated by connoisseurs, but no one was willing to pay an amount that would justify his efforts, said his father Venkatesh Bhat.

“They would quote Rs. 500, but this does not justify the work gone into the painting,” he said. This sparked the need for them to raise awareness about seeing art as an “investment”.

This idea led to the concept of “Kalagrama”, where artists from different fields – musicians, dancers, painters – can receive financial support and marketing expertise. “The idea is to give them a launch pad and a place to practice and express themselves,” said Mr. Bhat. “For now artists can enrol themselves in the organisation where they will be offered a steady pay,” Mr. Bhat said.

The exhibition is the first attempt of Kalagrama to try its new concept of selling ‘art cards’ — printed greeting cards with picture of paintings — being exhibited. Priced at Rs. 10, the cards of about 20 of the exhibits have been printed “in thousands”, said Mr. Bhat. The earnings will be shared with the artists, he said.

The art cards were part of Kalagrama’s plans to promote friendship, Mr. Bhat said. Those interested may see the greeting cards on www.beautywallspot.weebly.com. The exhibition is the initiative of Beauty Wall Spot, a project of the Kalagrama, near Konaje. Kalagrama has art galleries and an auditorium for the performing arts. It plans to start bachelor’s degree and postgraduate degree courses and research programmes and research activities.

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