Venkatappa Art Gallery, Bangalore
Venkatappa Art Gallery (VAG) is situated in Bangalore, India, in the vicinity of Cubbon Park and next to the Bangalore Museum as well as the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum. It attracts artists and art lovers from all over Karnataka.
The Government of Mysore had decided in 1966 that a gallery/museum was needed that could hold the paintings, musical instruments and plaster of paris bas reliefs which formed the collection of Karnataka’s most famous artist, K. Venkatappa (1886–1965), a pupil of Abanindranath Tagore.
Venkatappa Art Gallery came into being with the foundation stone being laid by the then Chief Minister S.Nijalingappa on 24 November 1967. It took a long time to complete. Artists who were frustrated with the delays went on an innovative protest on the footpath in front of Bible Society demanding the gallery space be finished in 1971. Artists included G.S Shenoy, Bhaskar Rao, Ramesh Rao, Acharya and Punam Chattaya. The building was finally completed in 1975.
It was intended to function both as a museum holding the works of K. Venkatappa as well as becoming a space for artists from all over Karnataka to use for their arts practice. VAG is commonly mistaken for the Bangalore Museum as they both stand next to each other and yet they are very different. VAG continues to be a space that accesses the contemporary holdings within it a museum as well as a gallery, something quite rare in the history of the structure of museums.
The modernist building was built by the Karnataka Public Works Department in the lines of an artificial island with a beautiful moat with a lotus pond surrounding it. This was used recently as the scene for a painting protest undertaken by VAG Forum in memory of K.Venkatappa protesting the hand over of Karnataka’s cultural commons to private parties.
The plan for the museum/gallery was for five floors but only three floors have been built and the whole building has been air-conditioned.
It also houses the collections of KK Hebbar and the sculptor Rajaram. KK Hebbar, an internationally acclaimed painter from Karnataka, donated his collection to Venkatappa Art Gallery in 1993. The Government of Karnataka also bought some of his works.
The KK Hebbar Gallery wing was set up in 1993–94 with the help of Chiranjiv Singh who was the former Indian ambassador to UNESCO and artist SG Vasudev who coordinated the donation. They were helped by art historian Marishamachar. The gallery space was renovated in 2004-5 by Rekha Rao, artist and daughter of KK Hebbar, at a cost of 16 lakhs. They changed the flooring and installed a new lighting system.