Finding his muse in the museum

Museum of Goa. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Artist Subodh Kerkar wants to be the Tukaram of contemporary art. He is on a crusade to bring contemporary art to the masses of his native Goa and steadfastly rejects increasing claims of Goa’s vibrant art scene as mere utopia.

“It is far from ideal. Where are the local people of Goa in these art events? They are completely insular and oblivious to such occurrences. I am not a cynic, but efforts such as Sensorium and Goa International Photography Festival (which have begun recently) are fantastic but restricted to a niche audience, a certain layer of society. The local population has no interaction with this art,” he asserts. But who is going to initiate the exposure? Kerkar found a solution. He says, “I wanted to go beyond my personal ambitions as an artist and that is how the idea of the Museum of Goa as a contemporary cultural space was born.”

The Museum of Goa or MOG, which means love in Konkani, is Kerkar’s personal project. Designed by architect Dean D’Cruz and spanning over 1,500 sq, ft in Pilerne Industrial Estate not too far from Calangute in South Goa, MOG will be launched on November 6. Kerkar demolished his studio to create MOG, and it is completely self-funded.

Dedicated solely to contemporary art, the Museum will not have any permanent exhibits. Sprawled across three floors, the galleries will host paintings, sculptures, installations and video art. A large garden has been created to encourage public sculptures. The museum will also house an auditorium, art store, art café and studio spaces for artists.

“I am not becoming an art dealer here. Most museums in the country are storehouses. It is such an outdated way of presenting works of art. I tried to persuade the government but nothing happened. So I did it myself. The last great public art in this country was Hampi but what after that? Politicians and bureaucrats cannot decide public art,” says Kerkar.

The inaugural exhibitions have been conceived around Goa’s history, driven by Subodh’s perennial interest in narrating history through a contemporary idiom. It is a conscious effort to create works that correspond to Goa’s past and foster larger local dialogues.

The first exhibition ‘Gopalapatanam’ will feature 20 artists, including Subodh, and the second show, ‘Morphology of Archives,’ has 30 artists, 15 Indian and 15 international, whose works will also navigate Goa’s historical terrain.

MOG will try to go beyond a mere gallery and engage with the Goans so that they can experience and understand contemporary art. “There are so many spaces in Goa that could be used for contemporary art. I was on a state government committee and we successfully supervised the restoration of the Old Secretariat in Panjim called Adil Shah Palace four years ago. We created an art gallery there with proper lighting, but nothing has happened there since. Many such spaces are languishing.”

The other problem is that very little has been written about contemporary art in the local languages. Kerkar would like every school child in Goa to come to the new museum and plans to offer them free entry. “We will introduce cultural literacy programmes. In Europe, every child gets at least one opportunity to view contemporary art. Why can’t we do it here?”

“Goa is a tourist state,” says Kerkar, “everybody coming to Goa should get an opportunity to view contemporary art.” While the museum will showcase art from across the world, there will be one exhibition every year for artists who live and work in Goa. The MOG will also offer a Rs 1 lakh award to support one emerging artist from Goa each year.”

The museum plans to reserve evenings for film screenings, lectures, and classical music concerts, among other activities. “The arts must speak to each other. We want to facilitate all kinds of artistic exchange — from a jazz festival to a poet-in-residence programme. Poet Ashok Vajpeyi suggested that we do something around Goa’s beaches with water as the central theme. There could be installations, poetry readings, performances. These are tremendously powerful ideas.”

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 6:02:34 AM |

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