Sunday 29 December 2013

Bangalore's Van Gogh

He was an artist, freedom fighter, legislator, newspaper editor and he was posthumously conferred the Distinguished Citizen of Bangalore.
Yet, he remains an obscure figure known largely in the field of painting. He was among the first few who loved painting the many trees, flowering plants and the beautiful parks of Bangalore. He loved Cubbon Park and Lalbagh and he immortalized them in colours.   
He excelled in painting landscapes and he had a distinct and unique style of his own so much so that he was often labelled as the Van Gogh of Bangalore.
Though he remembered for his contribution to painting, he took to it only after he was 53. Till then, he was a freedom fighter and politician rolled into one and he actively participated in the Vidhurashwatha Sathyagraha in Gauribidanur taluk where several farmers were killed by the British.
For two decades till his death in a road accident in 1988, he was a familiar figure on the tree lined avenues of Bangalore and its gardens and fountains, who carried his own folding stool, easel and art materials. He set them up wherever his eye caught the fancy and he got the urge to capture it on paint.
Born more than a hundred years ago in Dodaballapur, this man was none other than Rumale Chennabasaviah. He was a man of several vocations and he started out as a freedom fighter. Born in 1910, he was a freedom fighter till 1947 and then till 1963, a politician. He took to painting only in 1963and today he is more remembered for his landscapes of Bangalore than for anything else.
Many of his paintings are in water colours though he was adept at using oil paint.  
It was his elder brother who noticed his talent for art and enrolled him in Kala Mandir, in 1929-30. He then decided to study art at the Chamarajendra Technical Institute (CTI),  but he gave up after he met Mahatma Gandhi in 1934. Strangely, he exhibited 18 water colours at the Dasara Exhibition in Mysore in 1935 before abandoning the profession to jump into the freedom movement..
He participated in the Vidhuraswatha protest near Gauribidanur where ten people were killed in the firing. He spent several months in jail between 1939 and 1940.
It was only after 1947 that he decided to concentrate on his art but it was not until several years later that he again took up painting. Meanwhile, he took over as Editor of Tainadu, a Kannada newspaper, from 1956 to 1960.
In 1960, he went on to found the Chitrakala Parishat and from 1962, he began taking painting seriously.
He soon became famous as Rumale and today the Rumale Art House in 3rd Block, 45th Cross, Rajajinagar has a collection of one hundred of his paintings. He loved Cubbon Park and Lalbagh and frequently painted tress and flowers from these two gardens.  

On February 1988 morning, Rumale died in Bangalore when the autorickshaw he was travelling was hit by a factory bus just adjacent to Lalbagh.

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