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He deserves better

Two exhibitions to celebrate Kuvempu's centenary ought to had more



Kuvempu: one of the literary giants of Karnataka

KUVEMPU WAS one of the tallest literary figures Karnataka has ever produced. His life and works have inspired generations of poets, writers and thinkers. His birth centenary is being celebrated this year. Unfortunately, most of the programmes seem to be organised in a typical sarkari fashion that are more ritualistic in purpose and sterile in rendering. Thanks to the lack of vision and proper direction in the approach, the efforts have had no significant effect on the common populace.

The exhibition organised at the Chitrakala Parishat is a typical example of one such effort. There are two parts it: one, a photo exhibition on Kuvempu and the other an exhibition of collages purportedly based on one of his best known poems. K.G. Somashekar's camera does manage to capture the many moods of the poet through tightly composed close-ups. The viewer gets to glimpse a smiling Kuvempu as well as a pensive one. Even as one takes pleasure in viewing the black-and-white pictures taken some 34 years ago, one feels there should have been a better attempt to probe deeper into the life of the poet and explore the various facets of his unique personality.

The exhibition only passes muster thanks to the extremely expressive eyes and profile of the poet and the photographer's ability to grasp some of the moods expressed on that single day. In any case, these pictures have already been seen by the viewer in print media and on several other occasions and one is left with a tinge of disappointment.

Real letdown

The real letdown is the exhibition of paper collages by V. Balu. The exhibits not only show his now popular cut-and-paste technique but also digitally manipulated and `beautified' (!) variants of the same collages. It is difficult to connect the image with the poem, Aniketana, which is said to have inspired the collages. There is lack of focus and the objective seems to have been only to use the occasion to put on display some very ordinary works. It is also not clear what purpose was being served by displaying the original collages and the digital prints of the same collages (christened `collage plus').

Tribute to a literary giant like Kuvempu is a serious matter. When works are put on public display, whether they are photographs or paintings or collages, they entail a much higher responsibility and accountability on the part of the organisers, something in short supply at the exhibition. What confronts the viewer is a sort of commodification of Kuvempu's literary genius, immature planning and excruciatingly ordinary work.

The city boasts of a clutch of literary figures and artists. It would have probably been a fitting tribute to Kuvempu had a more meaningful exercise been undertaken to involve some of the best talents in such an enterprise. Pity that Bangalore, which prides itself in hosting `international' art festivals and habbas, has come to witness such a dull and inspiring exhibition in the memory of a colossus like Kuvempu.

The exhibition concludes today.

ATHREYA

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