Suresh Jayaram, former dean of Chitrakala Parishath (he quit in 2007), is quite the literary sort. A former journalist, he’s always got mouthfuls of erudite statements to make about the art scene that he’s watched grow around him in the city, and about the works of artists who breeze in and out of his home, 1 Shanthi Road. His words often make for chosen notes in catalogues and concept notes of shows. “He’s extremely well-connected, and plugged in,” said Abhiram Poduval, a 23-year-old curator, set to live in and work out of the 43-year-old Jayaram’s home till sometime in early 2009. The picture Poduval would have you conjure is of the former dean strapped in a skull mask with cables sprouting out of the spuds on his head leading into every fissure of the art world. “From young students to the elite, he knows them all,” added Poduval.
When Jayaram’s grandmother let him take over the terrace of her home, he decided to build an open house. “Nobody asks me how I made this place,” he exclaimed. “I mortgaged my mother’s house.” At first, one architect (unnamed) suggested he stock up on doors and windows. So Jayaram cruised around demolition sites, picking up throwaway pillars and discarded furniture. Soon he’d amassed a collection of turquoise doorways and panes, a lot of them from old colonial homes, when “the architect just disappeared”. That’s when he called in Meeta Jain.
“The brief was simple,” said Jayaram, the tufts of hair on his scalp a little ruffled. “I wanted this space to be open, and organic.” What Jain did was work around a badam tree in the courtyard (“It’s about 45 years old,” said Jayaram). And almost every room in the home – including the gallery hall that’s open to artists in residence – has windows or ventilators peeking outwards at this tree. “You know, there’s no fixed place for me to sleep in my own home,” said the former student of arts from MS University in Baroda. “That’s how I want it. I can sleep anywhere here.” If he did decide on one fixed place where he’d have to sprawl out in every night, that would ruin the scheme of things, he explained. “Also, the doors are always open.”
Since 2003, when he opened up his new home, Jayaram’s had about 20 artists residing and working out of here. Today, it’s a place where artists gather to bounce off ideas, seek critiques, and work in seclusion if they need to.
There are requests, like a recent one from a dance troupe, said Jayaram, who were looking to rehearse in the gallery hall. “I don’t want to stop them, I just tell them what they have to work with, and who knows what will happen.” Eric Weiner, a writer who spent a few days at Jayaram’s home called it “a sort of revolving salon” in his book The Geography of Bliss. “Everyone passes through One Shanti Road.” At any given point, there can be up to three artists in here, and very often, the house is bustling with people – for exhibitions, screenings, performances and impromptu parties. “This one time, I woke up at 11.45pm, and there was a bunch of people partying outside on the courtyard. They didn’t know I was home apparently, and I ended up joining them.” Rarely ever are these people charged.
There is a rate for people looking to move in – to take up the studio space, and use the bunker beds – though that’s completely negotiable, added Jayaram (the prices up on the website www.1shanthiroad.com can be beaten down). “There are some people who’re supposed to be friends of mine, and we formed this trust called Visual Arts Collective [the trust comprising four people and an advisory board of six artists keep the place going, suggesting ideas for shows and bringing in artists to work and display works],” he explained. “It would take at least Rs 30,000 every month to sustain this place. It’s always open for people, but I don’t like to charge. That’s until I have to rent this out to some ad agency, perhaps.”
1, Shanthi Road (98802-27706). Daily 10am-7pm.
Source : Time Out Bengaluru ISSUE 9 Friday, November 14, 2008