Art academy takes swift steps after painting controversy

Following the incident where three “objectionable” paintings were taken down from an exhibition at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath recently, the premier art academy here has decided to constitute a five-member committee to screen works of artists before giving approval for an exhibition.

The works of Delhi-based digital artist Anirudh Sainath Krishnamani were withdrawn under pressure from the police, following an oral complaint from a Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

Speaking to The Hindu, R. Sridhar, chief administrative officer of the parishath, said the decision to constitute a screening committee was taken as a “precautionary measure” to protect the repository of art works in the institution from harm.

Although the value of art works in its possession has not been accurately estimated, a conservative evaluation puts it at around Rs. 600 crore. “We are worried about the security of our art works,” he said.

According to Mr. Sridhar, senior faculty members of the Fine Arts College run by the parishath would be its members.

The panel members, all art historians and artists, “would not come in the way of freedom of expression of artists”. They would deny permission for shows “only if they are apprehensive of law and order problems”, he said. The committee would be set up in the next three days, he added.

Earlier panel defunct

The parishath had set up an expert committee in 2009 to assess the “quality” of works, but this is now defunct.

Mr. Sridhar said there was no pressure from any quarter to constitute a screening committee.

A senior member of the faculty, who did not want to be named, told The Hindu that the recent furore had caused anxiety among the faculty, as such an incident had never happened before in the history of the parishath.