Art

Bengaluru city is his canvas

Baadal Nanjundaswamy popularly referred as Baadal in the art circle, has created a space for himself in the art world by expressing his views on issues plaguing the society through his works

From his childhood days, whenever he was told that “he could not”, visual artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy, who has been testifying power of public art, proved that “he could”.

Baadal Nanjundaswamy popularly referred as Baadal in art circle, created a space for himself in the art world by expressing his views on issues plaguing the society through his works, especially 3D art. As a young artist he strongly believes that he could enjoy his art, while responding to the societal concerns.

His “Moonwalk” video which presents a graphic picture on the plight of people in Herohalli area of Bengaluru created much buzz both in civic and art circle. The video which went viral drew attention of the art curators across the globe. An art curator from Mumbai got impressed by the way the video was shot with Chandrayan concept, referred the video to Liz Hingley, Curator at SOAS University, London. Liz asked Baadal, whether he is willing to part the video to showcase in “A Passage Through Passages”, which opened at Brunei Gallery, SOAS on January 16. The exhibition is a part of Roads and the Politics of Thought, a European Research Council funded, five-year ethnographic study of road-building in South Asia.

Cine actor Poornachandra dressed in a spacesuit walking around crater like potholes of Herohalli is inspired by Chandrayan-2. This video puts focus on Baadal’s creativity for a cause. “To be frank, I haven’t expected the kind of response. I am indebted to cine actor Poornachandra, for co-operating in the project. Images of creators on moon surface captured by Chandrayan mission, triggered my imagination while watching potholes in Herohalli area. I zeroed in on the idea and translated that in to striking visuals. Initially, we approached a local tailor to stitch a costume that resembles space suit. But, the result was not satisfactory. Finally, a fancy store shop on Brigade Road met our requirement. We might have spent meagre Rs.5000 for the project”, Baadal explained the effort invested in making Moonwalk video.

In a way, Baadal created a new trend in street activism in Silicon city-Bengaluru. In recent years, he took on issues that people are confronting in their day to day life. Instead of taking recourse to canvas, Baadal transformed public roads as his canvas. He transformed broken roads and glaring potholes, which are claiming lives of innocents as art works to draw attention of civic authorities, for whom these “eyesores” do not make any difference. With the help of sculptures, Baadal translated into installations. He made a searing statement on the apathy of civic authorities about the killing potholes through his installation of a life-sized crocodile on a “mouth opening” pothole at Sulthanpalya Main Road. “I planted a life-sized fibre crocodile weighing 20 kg in the 12-ft long pothole and painted that with green. It cost me about Rs.6000,” Baadal explains. But, civic authorities are not insensitive as popularly believed. As the pictures of installation made headlines in the media, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) fixed that in no time. Then onwards, Baadal is popularly known as crocodile artist. “But, nothing significant has changed so far, except some cosmetic changes made by civic authorities in the guise of repairs,” regrets Baadal.

Likewise, the dismal turnout in Bengaluru Urban district in polls disturbed him. While studying in Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA) he contested in Corporation election in Mysuru. He wanted to be part of the system to bring about the change in the society. But he could not compete with the professional politicians, who mastered the art of mesmerising the electorates by projecting colour pictures. Baadal’s realistic images failed to enthuse voters. To pull the electorates from their deep slumber in 2018, Baadal created three huge public arts at prominent places of Okalipuram, Mekhri Circle and Sheshadripuram. His project of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, monkeys mutated to human to underline the need of civilised citizens to exercise their franchise at Okalipuram, people lining up holding relevant documents to claim their right to vote near Mekhri Circle, and visuals proclaiming “You are your own creator” inspired by the creation of Adam-a fresco work of Italian artist Michelangelo believed to be succeeded in forcing reluctant voters to exercise their franchise.

To showcase the problem of stagnated water in the huge craters on the roads, Baadal converted the crater near Cubbon Park into a lake with a mermaid. Popular Kannada actor Sonu Gowda helped Baadal by dressing up as a mermaid. “Following deaths because of potholes, I highlighted the issue through mermaid installation to force the government to address the issue,” says Baadal. His attempt really shocked both the people and civic lords, who were just crossing that without cribbing. These are some of the installation that yielded results for Baadal’s public art initiatives. “Without anticipating anything from anyone, I have created many installations of the kind to highlight problems of metropolis. I am happy that as soon as my work goes viral on social media, authorities promptly responds to them. As an artist, I don’t expect more than this,” he humbly said, scratching his beard.

There is a recurring pattern in the life of 40-year old Baadal, He is actually Nanjundaswamy Nanjaniah. “Baadal” is a prefix he got later.

When asked about the trend he set in street art activism. Baadal said: “at some point of time, I realised that art is only thing to which I can relate. I understood that art is my language and medium, with which I can express myself. I am experimenting with street art since my college days. Van Gogh and Salvador Dali are the two artists, who influenced me a lot. In fact, I am a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. To a certain extent, he influenced my creative thinking of blending illusions with reality”.

On hitting headlines overnight with Moonwalk, he said: “I am feeling awkward. It was not for publicity or attention. I am just repaying my debts to the society,” there was no pretension in Baadal’s voice.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:12:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/the-city-is-his-canvas/article30931669.ece

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