Mathrubhumi, Kochi Social/Online Media Coverage on February 25 2019.

How Bose Krishnamachari came to envision the ‘Outsider Art’ show


The chance encounter of the parents of a son with special needs with the work of an autistic artist led to the Biennale Foundation identifying Outsider Art as one among of the many Outreach programs they are encouraging.

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Kochi: Renowned artist and Kochi Biennale Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari breaks new artistic ground through envisioning ‘Outsider Art’ show, which opened at Dravidia Art Gallery on February 22.

It features 66 works by 38 artists – aged from 11 to 32 – with autism spectrum disorder. Sponsored by John Nechupadam of Plant Lipids, and organised n association with the Kochi Muziris Biennale, these will be on display till March 3.

Selections were made from entries received following a call in November to autism organisations across India. Of the 230 entries received Bose settled for 64.


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The genesis can be traced to the Eureka moment when in July 2018 ex-Naval Commander Ajai Vadakkath and wife, Priti, chanced upon a few works by a young person with autism from Bengaluru. The parents of a 17-year-old autistic son then turned to Bose with whom Ajai was associated in the inaugural edition of the Biennale in 2012. Incidentally, Priti and brother-in-law, Vivek Vilasini, too are artists.

The Biennale Foundation personnel then got actively involved and envisioned the exhibition the way it is now. They have also identified Outsider Art as one among of the many Outreach programs they are encouraging, which will result in more such exhibitions for the outsider in the art community.

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According to Akshayee Shetty of Sense Kaleidoscopes, Bengaluru, whose nine artists have been chosen for the exhibition, the initiative promotes “the art practice of persons with Autism, have sensory processing disorder, anxiety disorder, challenges with understanding social norms, communication & cognitive concepts and deal with social exclusion. The art they produce may be outcomes of their non-linear thinking, obsessive-compulsive nature, stimulus over-selectivity, and other attributes peculiar to autism. The exhibition seeks to give a platform to the artists to showcase their ways of seeing and expression to the world, and create awareness about forms of creativity that exist outside of art institutes and accepted norms.”

The acrylic on canvas, I Want, is the powerful work of 19-year old Rohit Anand, artist, sculptor and singer, which throbs with the normal desire of any teenager for a companion. In his own words: “This first canvas I have drawn about my dream. About Mansi, Mansi is one girl who was coming to Unit SK in Jakkur, my old school last time in December then in 2012 April and May. In my dream, there were 2 Mansis in this artwork. I liked Mansi a lot; that’s why I have drawn about her in my artwork.” Akshayee says that he has “a surreal, beautiful mind {and} has been drawing since he was a 4-year old and has numerous books filled with drawings.”

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This exercise in artistic inclusion of those who otherwise face social exclusion is testimony to the innate urge of the human spirit to communicate desires and dreams overcoming a mental affliction, which to the world might seem an insurmountable challenge, but is not.