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Karnataka minister, artists engage in verbal duel
February 18, 2009 18:39 IST
The opening ceremony of southern regional centre of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangaluru on Wednesday witnessed high drama with the artist fraternity and a Karnataka minister entering into a verbal duel, after the minister allegedly dubbed some artists as "pseudo intellectuals".
Speaking at the function, which was inaugurated by Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Ambika Soni, the state minister for medical education, Ramchandra Gowda said, "Modern Art has become convenient means for pseudo intellectuals to insult, humiliate ancient Indian culture and heritage."
"Some of the connoisseurs of art of late have begun running down the widely practised art believed by the millions. I welcome modern art but not at the cost of ancient Indian culture and art," the minister added.
The minister's words evoked sharp reaction from a section of the artists, who were already irked over many local artists not being invited for the function.
M S Murthy, a local artist, retorted, "A man who does not understand art, cannot pass any comments on art."
An enraged Gowda said: "This is the government speaking" and directed the police officials to remove the protesting artist. "Pull him out. Get out", he shouted, leading to the police officials asking the artist to leave.
Murthy later alleged to the media that the officials had used vulgar words and asked him to leave the place. Some artists came out in his support even as the function continued inside.
Murthy charged that several local artists had not been invited to the function, nor were their works exhibited. To add insult to injury, the minister, he alleged, had dubbed some of them as pseudo intellectuals and "insulted" their work.
Ambika Soni, who intervened, later apologised to the artists if any names had been missed out from the invitation list. She said shortage of time may have resulted in some invitations not reaching the artists.
On the work of local artists not being put up for display, she said, "Around 5000 works were airlifted from Delhi [Images] for the exhibition. The theme being Signposts of the Times--from the Collection of NGMA, it was not related to any particular region but the works during the time-period of 18th to 21st century were included."
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