The end of 2017 saw a landmark exhibition of Karnataka art at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru. The show was curated by Suresh Jayaram. It was an exhaustive survey of shifting art trends in Karnataka Modern Art. Modernity entered Karnataka art from various sources and Suresh managed to trace many of those threads and lay it before the viewer. Instead of looking at individual artists as islands, the curation placed them in a context and located them as part of a larger trend. The show was woven around large themes – portraiture, still life, landscape, figurative narrative and abstracts. There were sections which dealt with drawing, printmaking and illustration trends in Karnataka.
Illustrated here is a sample from the landscape section, which delineated the shifting focus of landscape painting. Earlier, artists engaged with nature with a bucolic view; but as various technologies like electricity and concrete structures were adapted, they began to be reflected in artworks too. Today, as unbridled development has taken its toll on nature and devastated it, landscape painting has become study of abandoned mines and parched brown landscapes bereft of greenery.
Suresh is an independent curator, art historian and artist based in Bengaluru. He has curated many important shows including the Colombo Art Biennale 2012. He is the founder and director of the visual art collective 1 Shanti Road, an international artists’ residency and alternative art space in the city.