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MAP opens to public in Bengaluru

By Giridhar Khasnis

Art lovers and aficionados in Bengaluru have reason to celebrate the opening of a much-awaited museum in the heart of the city.

The Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) is being thrown open to the public on February 18. A dream project of well-known collector Abhishek Poddar, MAP has received the backing and support of several Indian businessmen, industrialists, and private patrons who have augmented the personal donations and financial commitments of the founder.

Artist impression of MAP – Museum of Art and Photography

In his interactions with the media, Poddar has emphasised that the purpose of MAP was not just to build a museum but to become a catalyst for change in the art sector. He also asserts that MAP is situated in Bengaluru “not only because it is my home, but because I believe it is where India’s future lies.”

Set in a somewhat narrow site at the cross-section of Kasturba Road and Kasturba Cross road overlooking Cubbon Park, the museum has already attracted considerable attention and interest. “The narrow site meant that there were challenges on how much could be built,” reveals architect Soumitro Ghosh. “We had to work under those constraints and yet maximise the floor area for the art galleries, museum spaces without compromising on the public spaces within the museum… The architecture of the building optimises the structure to create column-free spaces for the galleries. The structure is worked out as a box with traditional columns and cantilever slabs at each level.”

Apart from four large purpose-built galleries (on the third and fourth floors of the building), and an L-shaped gallery space on the ground floor, the Museum includes a conservation laboratory, 130-seat auditorium, library, learning cerntre, museum shop, rooftop restaurant, and member’s lounge.

Citizens, Charcoal drawing by Rajan Krishnan

MAP prides itself on its vast collection of more than 60,000 works ranging from the classical, and traditional to the modern and the contemporary. Masterpieces from the Mughal, Jain, Rajput, and Pahari school traditions and charming collections of textiles, photography, paintings, and sculptures are part of its varied collection.

To mark the inauguration of MAP, several exhibitions have been put in place. 

Visible/Invisible brings together over 130 works from MAP’s leading collection of South Asian visual culture. Curated by Kamini Sawhney, Director of MAP, it explores the visual representation of women in Indian art history from the tenth century to the present day through a collection of sculptures, textiles, posters, paintings, and photographs by a diverse range of artists and makers.  

Time and Time Again is the first major museum retrospective of the photography of Jyoti Bhatt (b.1934). Curated by Nathaniel Gaskell, Director of Map Academy, the exhibit includes more than 150 photographs, contact sheets, and archival materials to showcase Bhatt’s incredible photographic activity. Well-known for his modernist work in painting, printmaking and photographic documentation of rural Indian culture, Bhatt was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019. 

Children, photos by Jyoti Bhatt

MAP is also showcasing the sculptural works of LN Tallur and the sculptural installation of Stephen Cox.

For his exhibition Chirag-e-AI, Tallur has drawn from 18th and 19th-century Indian sculptures and lamps from the MAP’s collection. The mythical figures, celestial beings, and deities who are worshipped have been used as starting points to make a larger argument about the systems of today and their operational logic. Through his sculptures carved out of plywood, stone, metal and software, the artist explores the contours of thoughts, ideas and intentions which are intrinsic to human nature.

Data Mining, Sculpture by LN Tallur

Stephen Cox’s Rishis, on the other hand, is formed of a series of totemic stones, regarded as sages or seers who realise supreme truth and eternal knowledge. The internationally acclaimed sculptor who has worked in different countries throughout his illustrious career is known for his work which is complex in appeal and rich in suggestion. 

With its present and future exhibitions and outreach programmes, Bangaloreans hope that MAP will breathe fresh air into the Indian art scene, and unleash the power and magic of art to the discerning as well as common visitor. 


Image courtesy: Museum of Art and Photography (MAP)


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