A curator who promotes young artists

Curator N. Vijayalakshmi, who is holding a three-day ‘Art For All’ painting expo at Suchitra Art Gallery in Kalamandira premises, seen with the paintings.

By N. Niranjan Nikam

There was no razzmatazz. He was quietly going about hanging the paintings on the wall even as the lady who had segregated it was guiding him. The art shows are usually a hep affair. But the lady, N. Vijayalakshmi, though a Mysurean, was back to her roots after almost 40 years, wanted it to be a quiet launch.

“I call this art exhibition ‘Art For All, an affordable art show.’ My associate Balakrishna assists me in arranging the paintings. I have always promoted young artists who do not have the ability to put up shows because it costs lot of money to hold an exhibition,” said curator Vijayalakshmi, sitting at the Suchitra Art Gallery in Kalamandira premises, speaking to Star of Mysore.

Vijayalakshmi, who started the gallery in Chennai called Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery ran it for 20 years and she used to host the painting exhibitions every year. “I myself used to paint and have held exhibitions in Delhi at Maurya Sheraton where I painted mountains and trees as part of World Environment Day,” she said.

She has never believed in selling paintings at fancy prices. “I always tell the young artists that they have to make a choice. Either, you can mark up the price, take a chance and make a big sale or sell more paintings instead of seeing them gathering dust,” she said.

As this is the first time Vijayalakshmi is curating an exhibition in Mysuru, she said that she did not want to sell the paintings at cosmopolitan city rates. Talking a little more about what entails organising a show of this sort, she said, “I never look at the bio-data of a painter. I myself am not a trained artist. What I look for is whether they are good. Even untrained artists have hidden talents and they are the types whom I have always given a chance.”

Her father R. Krishnaswamy is a well-known name in Mysuru who used to sell stationery items. “I have seen him selling colours and paints. That is how I developed an interest in painting. Of course, those days we did not have the courage to tell our parents that we were interested in doing what we wanted to do. Hence, I quietly studied science subjects,” she recalled.

While she was in Mumbai, there were only two main galleries, one Jehangir Art Gallery and the other at Taj. For the uninitiated, putting up a show is very time-consuming and a costly affair that involves painting cost, charges for the gallery, calling the media, transportation, to name a few. After all this, there is no guarantee that the sales would be good.

However, having held art shows for more than 25 years, she firmly believes that it is the young artists who need all encouragement. “I tell senior artists to co-operate and luckily they have joined hands with younger ones in my shows,” she said.

What is affordable rates according to Vijayalakshmi? “When I started selling it was as low as Rs. 100. When I closed down my gallery I have sold paintings for even Rs. 50,000. Here also I am selling from as low as Rs. 100 to the expensive one of Rembrandt at Rs. 30,000,” she said.

Some of the young artists who have gone on to carve out a name in the art world include Aragesan, Shivaram (an untrained artist), Murugesan, Usha Devi, Selva Chandra Kumar and even Mysuru’s Jayadeva.

The paintings on display include landscapes, abstracts, semi modern, realistic, Rembrandt reproductions, besides a few sculptures. The pencil sketches of Ramana Maharshi and M.S. Subbalakshmi catches the eye as well as the one of a clown. “The painter who did the clown painting Balasidda was a brilliant painter who drank himself to death,” she said.

Asked about Suchitra Art Gallery, Vijayalakshmi said, “The location is beautiful. However, the gallery could be much better organised. The walls should be plain and there should be reapers to hang the paintings; this is not the area for wooden panelling, lights are not properly placed.”

Vijayalakshmi, who firmly believes, “Art comes from heart,” plans to encourage young artists in Mysuru and hold more such art shows in the days to come.

The art show that opened today (June 30) will be held till July 2 from 10 am to 8 pm.