A dash of Danish

MEETING GROUND Pegasus Art Centre will facilitate Indian and Western artists to interact and exhibit their works

MEETING GROUND Pegasus Art Centre will facilitate Indian and Western artists to interact and exhibit their works  

Mysore gets a welcome gift of the arts this Dasara. A city of repute for nurturing the various arts and supporting artisans, it will now house an international art centre being set up by a Danish painter and muralist, who's made the charming city his home and wants to share what he's learnt.

With the opening of Pegasus Art Centre, a long-felt need for an art centre with an international touch, is possibly being met. The brain behind the venture is Johan H. Benthin, a well-known Danish artist who has settled in Mysore for a couple of years. The 69-year old painter and muralist, who has won several international awards and grants, lived a great part of his life in different parts of the world before making India his home.

"The 1950s I spent mostly in Scandinavia. I was in Denmark in the 60s with an extended sojourn in Italy, and then lived in South as well as North America. During the 70s and 80s, I had my studio in Germany and travelled from there to different destinations. In the mid-90s, it was southern Spain, and since the late 90s, my life has been centred in South India. The different cultural influences have been a constant inspiration for me."

Interestingly, Benthin left his home when he was just 17 and was, for a while, an apprentice at a timber-merchandising firm before he undertook various management courses and jobs. "My artistic skills were developed simultaneously in an auto-didactic or self-taught manner," he recalls. "When I was young, I was badly in need of good teachers. So I decided that should I ever happen to be able to collect the necessary knowledge, it would be my duty to teach those in want of this same knowledge. With this in mind, I learned how to teach fine arts and later on, actually taught the subject. I learnt more than my students during these sessions. So to me, it was a period of self-study."

Benthin's pedagogical activities, over the years, have included seminars and workshops for European visual artists and establishing an art-school in Germany for talented youth to prepare them for a more academically inclined education later. Teaching assignments have taken him around the world. He was also a guest faculty member at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore, during 1998-2003.

For the past two years, he has been a visiting teacher, coordinating workshops for art students of Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), Mysore. "It is a challenge for me as a senior artist to convey knowledge to students, but I am very careful to balance it with interactions. And here in India, I have found some well-equipped young art-students with a great willingness to learn. It gives me great joy to watch their development."

Pegasus Art Centre, which is being inaugurated at 6.30 p.m. tomorrow (October 1) has already set on its agenda a variety of activities like workshops, lectures, exhibitions and art classes for young art students and junior artists.

It will also facilitate Indian and Western artists to meet, interact and exhibit their work through international art camps to be held in Mysore. Beginners and amateur painters will surely be interested in the special art appreciation programmes.


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