Saturday, June 27, 2009

National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

A few weeks ago, a friend told me about this new National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore. It was inaugurated in February 2009 and I had completely missed the news about it. So, I visited the place today and had a great time. All the greats of the Indian art world are represented here and I could see the originals. Tagore (Rabindranath), Tagore (Abanindranath), Anjolie Ela Menon, Amrita Sher Gil, S G Vasudev, K K Hebbar, Yusuf Arakkal, K C S Paniker, M F Husain, Ramkinkar Baij, Nand Lal Bose, Jamini Roy, P T Reddy, Ravi Varma are all there. Of course there are more, either their names are not familiar to me or I do not recall some of them at the moment.

I have heard many people say that they do not understand "Modern Art." What they mean, often, is that they do not understand "abstract" art. If you are one of them, do not make the mistake of dismissing this Gallery of Modern Art. There are many "realistic" paintings - or should I say non-abstract? If you are reasonably interested in art, you should visit this beautiful gallery.

Even if you do not "like" the paintings, I am sure you enjoy the architecture. It is an old royal residential building converted to a museum. Manikyavelu Manisons.

A modern wing has been added with completely contemporary architecture that does not stick out like a sore thumb. See below a picture of the open staircase in the modern wing. (The greenish tinge to the picture is thanks to the trees all around it!

I was given permission to take a single picture of one of the rooms to add to my post. (See below) The pictures on either side of the window are very good indeed.

If you want to know where this gallery is, DO NOT LOOK for it in the maps on the internet. You get five different locations and of course four of them are wrong!

The best I can do is - it is on the road between Mt Carmel College and Chalukya Hotel, called Palace Road. The full address is NGMA, 49, Palace Road, Bangalore, 560052. Ph: 22201027

The exhibits keep changing with paintings "borrowed" from the NGMA Delhi. Keep an eye open for the announcements in the papers.

There are displays that give some information on the artists, schools of art and such, which are very educative.

On the whole, a great experience. It is sad though, that there are not many visitors to this gallery. I was there for more than two hours (not sufficient, actually, and plan to visit again soon) and saw only two other visitors.

After all the good words, there are some comments. I will be sending the this post's link to NGMA and I hope they take it as a feedback and act on it. Based on my brief interaction with the staff there, I am almost certain that they will.

The floor of the gallery may deserve better maintenance. Viewing some exhibits is hampered by the lighting. Let me give a specific example. When you stand in front of one of the Anjolie Ela Menon paintings, a light meant for a painting on the other side of the wall is directly in your eye. This one is a very beautiful painting of a mother and her two children. Some of the name boards may have typographical errors, Thrashing instead of Threshing, for instance, next to one of Ramkinkar Baij's paintings. These comments are only to make an excellent place better.


  1. Anonymous12:12 pm

    hey, thanks for the details. Good to know. Makes me want to visit.


  2. Anonymous7:29 am

    Nice write-up. I loved the pic of the building with the waterfront.

  3. Should pay a visit soon !

    ---- Nagraj

  4. i am one of the fellows who do not know what to see in a painting and what makes a painting great. let me see if i can make it to this place during my next visit to b'lore and learn something.

  5. Once Ravi told me that he listened to western classical music and enjoyed it but did not know anything about. I proved to him that he was "wrong". Even though he did not "understand" it I proved to him that he had an innate understanding of it.

    I gave him two tapes. Both had the same music - Beethoven's 5th Symphony, but, different conductors, different symphony orchestras playing it. I asked him to tell me which one, he felt, was better. He promptly brought them back the next day and told me. It happened to be the one which most experts opined as the better one, and my - non-expert's - favourite too.

    In the first listening both sound the same - almost. But you "know" that one is somehow better. You listen to it again, you "know" that there is more colour in a passage here, things are sharper or clearer in a passage there, in another, the mood, for goodness' sake, is more lively. These are terms which the critics are supposed to use. Now you are using them.

    The whole point is, we do not give credit to our own aesthetic capabilities and hence lose out on great art.

    Do visit the gallery, I am sure it will surprise you and you will surprise yourself.

  6. Ravi mentioned above mailed me since he could not upload this comment to the post. I am posting it on his behalf!

    Anil, I remember this very clearly. Later on, as I began listening to classical music myself, I did a small experiment. As you know, my mother loves music, but is not very familiar with western classical music. I let her listen to Wagner's "Forest murmurs" and the funeral march from "Tristan und Isolde" without revealing the titles or their context. She told me she could see a beautiful forest with flowering bushes and animals with the first one, and felt the deep lament in the funeral march. This is almost an exact description of the actual settings of both these pieces in an opera.

    I agree that critics merely have the language, the conviction and an aura to say what a lot of other people feel as well as they do.

  7. Just adding some landmarks about the location:

    On Palace road (which you can locate on the map), if you are coming from the side of mount carmel college, it is just after the crossing(Crossing with Cunningham road..see map).It is one way, that is no entry from mount carmel college side. At the crossing, there is one petrol bunk, and the gallery has a common wall with the petrol bunk.Better to come from the golf course side. If you are coming from mount carmel side, you can always take the cunningham road, then left on chowdiah road and again left on palace road.

    The URL to Google Map.,-95.677068&sspn=40.681389,93.076172&ie=UTF8&ll=12.990069,77.588174&spn=0.012252,0.022724&z=16

  8. Sorry, the 'One way' description was vague. It is one way after the crossing, however since the gallery is almost at the crossing, you can come from the carmel college side.

  9. Hi,

    Nice to know that someone other than me has already done a research and made an attempt to tell the world. Infact, I was travelleing to my office everyday morning around 7-00a.m. across this road. Then one day, saw those painting hoards and was wondering what could those buildings be. And lo found a huge board "National Gallery of Modern ARt". I was too happy to know about this. Am waiting for a day to visit the same place and will do it asap.

    I also do a bit of painting and now would like to dwell into this ART much more deeply. I visited the chitrakala parishat recently. Get vey little time to do my paintings, mostly for gifting purpose.

  10. Thanks Roopa.

    Disappointed to see that your blog is empty.

  11. Anonymous6:52 pm

    It's sad that only 2 people were in the gallery along with you. Most of the galleries in Bangalore have very few attendance. In India, only people in Kolkotta attend art galleries on a regular basis and even make investiments in art. Wake up Bangalore!!!

  12. Apparetnly more people listen to classical music in Bangalore than visit art galleries. Viswa Mohan Bhatt commented at a recent all night concert that he finds so many people at a concert at 5am only in one other city in India and that is Pune!

    So, Bangalore stays awake but still needs to wake up for galleries, dear anonymous? :-)

  13. Anonymous3:08 pm

    I had been to NGMA Bangalore 2 weeks back on a Saturday at 3:00 PM. Lucky for me, there was a talk on the paintings by a young lady exactly at 3 PM. Apart from me, there was a foreigner, 2 art students and another art ethusiast like me. The talk was very useful as she guided us through all the paintings. My wife is new to art and she didn't understand any of the paintings and why the artists are so hyped up. I guess some more talks like this and she will understand why.

    That apart, i have following modern art for the last 5 years by reading on the net and so it was sheer pleasure to see the actual paintings right in front of me. So for any indian art enthusiast, it will be sheer delight. Rupees 10 is worth an entry ticket to see these paintings, each valued not less than 5 lakhs in the least i bet. But it is not the value that is important, it is knowing the evolution the artists went through to make their mark, takes a lot of hard work and committment.

    And finally i would like to comment that the museum was divided into pre-independence and post independence artists. The old artists definitely pale in comparision to the great masters of other countries. Every other country has such a rich history of art. But in India, art has begun only about a century ago. Of course we do have mughal art and cave art. But nothing prominent. This means that Indian art has begun just a century ago. Which means that the current modern painters are the ones shaping indian art, indian art is in it's nascent stage, indian art is new, a baby that is just born. So is is still the right time to buy art and be happy with a piece of history in your living room. So visit those 30 plus art galleries in Bangalore and online galleries, indian art is here to wake the world!


  14. Anonymous11:51 pm

    lovely writeup...i think all art lovers must help promote this place...especially with the schools n colleges...ngma definetly make us feel proud of our artist...

  15. Do check out the link on NGMA Bangalore -

    Cheers to the Art Lovers
    Umesh U V

  16. Thanks for the information. It really helps me to do my assignment work.

  17. I found your write up to be sincere, knowledgeable, aesthetically pleasing (the photographs), and helpful. Thanks.

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