An advantage for artists

Rekha Hebbar Rao. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Picasa

Languid lines that meander between thoughts, stand their ground, and evoke the presence of a legend called K.K. Hebbar. Years after this painter’s brush had been hung up, he lives through his body of work and more pertinently, the K.K. Hebbar Art Foundation, a Trust he set up in Mumbai in 1991-92 to enable artists to find their footing.

With the legend’s passing on in 1996, the Foundation is nurtured by his children, Rekha Hebbar Rao, Rajani Prasanna and Ranna Hebbar.

Rekha, an artist in her own right, talks of how her father was not just an artist, but a teacher at heart. “His methods were novel, innovative and he loved promoting young, talented artists. So during his tenure as chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi, he took action to ensure that artists from all States could participate in the annual National Exhibition in New Delhi. While he was the Chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi, Karnataka, he encouraged young artists including S.G. Vasudev and Yusuf Arakkal to exhibit outside the State. He organised week-long art camps to create a forum for artists to interact and produce artworks at the venue. He struggled hard in his younger days to make a living through his art. So when he became well established, he shared his success with striving artists.”

Sharing the legend’s success for the last 20 years, since the inception of the Foundation, awards have been instituted to promising artists as well as grants commissioned to enable them to carry on their calling. “Over the years, Jitish Kallat, Riyaz Komu, Bose Krishnamachari, Iranna, Ravi Kashi, Shantamani M and Malavika Rajnarayan among others have been aided by the Foundation,” recalls Rekha.

Recipients of the Foundation’s grants for the year 2014-15, whose works were exhibited at the Vismaya Gallery in Bengaluru, included Anjum Khan, Aradhna Tandon, Meena Laishram and Shubra Chaturvedi, from the Norah Centre for Art, Andretta Village, Himachal Pradesh. Their works, curated by acclaimed artist Gogi Saroj Pal, are a profusion of spirited colours localised by landscapes and people - relations between human, Nature and animal; all sights to internalise in an attempt to reclaim a world of inclusive living.

The Foundation’s endeavour is widespread, entering spaces the world recognises for artistic expressions that have attempted to explore conversations between species and spaces. Extending this exploration, this year, artists K. Aishwaryan and B.H. Lokesh received grants from the Foundation to work in V. Viswanathan’s studio at the Cholamandal Village, Chennai.

Furthering the impetus of the Foundation, a day-long camp was organised in Bengaluru with 12 artists engaging in dialogue, envisioning drawings, which were exhibited alongside the works of the other grantees. The metamorphoses of humans and animals in relation to merging spaces, via the strokes of artists Aziz T.M, Bharati Sagar, Bhavani G.S, Girish Kulkarni, Guridas Shenoy, Jayakumar G, Ravi Shah, Ravikumar Kashi, Shantamani M, Shirley Mathew, Shivanand Basavanthappa and Sultana Hasan spoke of a wide and inclusive selection of ideas.

“There are no set compulsions in selecting artists,” confirms Rekha, adding, “I am a professional artist and have been working for the past 40 years. My sister Rajani was the Head of the History Department at the JJ School of Art, Mumbai, and has worked there for 30 years. During our growing up years, we have met and seen the works of M.F. Husain, Ara, Gogi Saroj Pal, Tyeb Mehta, Vasudeo Gaitonde, Anjolie Menon, Prafulla Dahanukar among others who dot the contemporary art firmament.

Our eyes are well-trained to detect talent. We, the family members, add to the K.K. Hebbar fund whenever we can. We accept donation from art lovers but not from government agencies.”

The Trust’s activities are focused towards promoting good art by Indian artists. “We give impetus to painting, sculpture and conceptual art too… We invite applications from artists with interesting projects every June, when funds are allocated,” says Rekha.

The Foundation’s thrust is a blessing in a world that is changing every second. “Science and technology have entered the field of art, which is welcome. But I do believe that in art, 2+2 does not add up to 4. Art has its own logic, which the world has yet to recognise fully. If you are passionate about art, go for it, nothing can stop you,” advices Rekha.

For, in her own life as an artist, beyond the predicament of human experience, there are elemental forces and areas that are accessible to her.

“It is this area that allows me to travel and delve out images for my paintings every day,” concedes Rekha, as she flies away from a disrupted surrounding, on the wings of her magic canvas.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 7:06:47 AM |

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