Preserving the art and culture of a city is an undertaking that requires love and patience, something we discovered as we explored this one-stop art destination. Nestled in south India, which houses more than 60,000 works, including sculptures, paintings, graphics, and textiles, among others, and is on the quest to make art more accessible to the community—bridging the disconnect between art and the general public.
Speaking about blurring the boundary between art and audiences, Abhishek Poddar, the founder and trustee of MAP (Museum of Art & Photography), puts forth: “My hope for MAP is that it can reach people, especially the next generation, in whose hands our future is held... I believe that they will be the generation of change, who’ll be the real curators of this museum, eventually.”
“We don’t just want to share the undeniable beauty of art...we want to consider the urgent issues of society that we all face, turning to the power of art to spark new debate and offer insight into our own lives,” shares Kamini Sawhney, director of MAP.
The Museum of Art & Photography opened doors to the residents of Bengaluru with four exhibitions and a series of new commissions on February 18th this year.
Featuring contemporary pieces as well as indigenous artworks, the venue primarily showcases offerings from South Asia, from the 10th century onwards. VISIBLE/INVISIBLE is an exhibition curated by Kamini Sawhney—which features over 130 works by veteran artists such as M. F. Husain, Jamini Roy, and Bhupen Khakhar, among others. And it addresses a compelling paradox...while women have played a vital role in artistic representation, how does one justify their absence and invisibility from the public domain? The presentation explores patriarchy and gender inequality, inviting debate and discussion on an issue central to our lives even today.
Time & Time Again, a photo-series drawn from artist Jyoti Bhatt’s archives, chronicles the painter’s photographic journey during the second half of the 20th century. His repertoire of works canvasses rural communities and documents the folk traditions of Gujarat in a most engaging manner.
MAP has also put on display a solo show titled Chirage-Al by contemporary artist LN Tallur; a series of sculptural works that present the confluence of artificial intelligence (AI) and ritualistic belief systems...indicative of mankind’s growing reliance on technological systems. Lastly, Dialogues in Stone, an installation by British sculptor Stephen Cox, celebrates powerful Goddesses and sages through minimalistic forms. The Museum of Art & Photography has also commissioned works by respected artists including Arik Levy, Ayesha Singh, and Tarik Currimbhoy.
Besides the state-of-the-art establishment, MAP strives to be in tandem with the technological advancements of today via virtual exhibitions, virtual reality experiences, interactive projections, interactive touch walls, sensor-based digital art views, AI-enabled art and pattern searches, and more. When they say the Museum of Art & Photography is making art more accessible, they truly mean it. The inclusive space delivers on its promise to accommodate the handicapped by incorporating disabled-friendly features in its design, as well as quiet spaces for those who seek respite from ‘museum fatigue’. A retail store, al fresco rooftop dining, and a café contribute to the allure of the structure.
This piece originally appeared in the March 2023 print edition of Harper's Bazaar India