A bridge to art: how the Art Café connects the worlds of business and pleasure

The creative circuit in Bengaluru has been enriched with this art gallery in the sky that is soon completing its first year. Here are some pictorial highlights, along with curator insights.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 350 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Art experience and café chillout come together in fine style at Bengaluru’s Art Café, positioned in a fourth-floor corridor connecting the World Trade Centre and Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway. The skybridge venue overlooks the scenic waterside and shopfronts of Orion Mall, and features the works of emerging as well as established artists.

Art in Bengaluru is being displayed at a number of venues outside of traditional galleries, such as malls, hotels, and even pubs. See our coverage of art exhibitions and festivals in Sublime Galleria, VR Bengaluru, Phoenix Market City, Taj West End, and Church Street Social.


“When I conceptualised Art Café, we created it on a bridge,” says Nirupa Shankar, Founder of Art Café and Executive Director, Brigade Enterprises, in a chat with YourStory. She also spearheads the Brigade Group’s Real Estate Accelerator Programme (see our profile of REAP here, along with startup cohort profiles.).

Nirupa describes the bridge as symbolic at a number of levels. “Apart from literally bridging two very different buildings, an office and a hotel, it bridges the way different people spend their time – work vs. leisure,” she explains.

The space combines the immersive experience of an art gallery with the buzzing vibrancy and high energy of a café - hence, the name Art Café. The bridge also brings together the passions for art, food and drink; blurring the distinctions between boundaries is a sign of our times, Nirupa adds.

Some of the artworks on display are priced from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh, by artists such as Ashu Gupta, Basuki Dasgupta, Madhuri Kathe, Dinkar Jadhav, Kandi Narsimha, Laxman Aelay, Suresh Baghmare, and Sailesh Pandit. They are sourced from Tangerine Art Space as well as art platform startups like Artisera, founded by Varun Backliwal.

Over the past year, Art Café has held three exhibitions, and also hosts summer camps, workshops, and discussions with artists. The first exhibition at Art Café was called Faces, reflecting the character, diversity, layers, and changes in faces around us, Nirupa explains.

The exhibition was curated by Giridhar Khasnis (see our coverage of his earlier shows A Moment in Time and Of Silence, Solitude and Slow Time). Featured artists included Jamini Roy, Badrinarayan, Manjit Bawa, Himmat Shah, SG Vasudev, Manu Parekh, KT Shivaprasad, Ravinder Reddy, Gayatri Gomuz, Priti Vadakkath, Ved Prakash, G Reghu, Venkat Botsa, Sunil Padwal, Riyaz Komu, Vivek Vilasini, TM Azis, Parag Sonarghare, and Sharanu Alloli.

Future plans for the Art Café include pop-up stores for designer labels in clothing, jewellery and footwear. “We want to make art more accessible to broader audiences and to millennials. We place original affordable art by Indian artists. The café seeks to remove the snobbery around art by hosting events that educate people about artwork by Indian talent,” Nirupa explains.

The second exhibition was on tribal art, while the third features contemporary and abstract artworks. “Art for me is an expression of the self – of emotions, desires, hopes and dreams. It is a personal interpretation of an experience, moment or situation. Art to me equals freedom from inhibition,” Nirupa signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, and build a bridge to your more creative core?

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