The fine art of observation and humour: how these caricatures show the lighter side of life

A sense of humour is sorely needed during difficult times. In this three-part photo-essay, we showcase artworks and insights from caricaturist YS Nanjunda Swamy.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 485 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.

A sense of humour is sorely needed in a world of conflict, confusion and chaos, particularly in the times of coronavirus. Whether through jokes, comedy, satire, cartoons, or caricatures, humour keeps our spirits up, gives us a bigger perspective on life, and renews a sense of hope during the struggle.

Tucked away in a lane off MG Road is one of Bengaluru’s cultural treasures, the Indian Cartoon Gallery (ICG). Over the years, it has hosted over 150 exhibitions featuring local, national and international artists (see our earlier photo-essays from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015).

The gallery manager and curator is V.G. Narendra, Managing Trustee of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC). He is a cartoonist himself, and trained under Shankar Pillai, who was the founder of ‘Shankar’s Weekly’ and is often regarded as the father of political cartooning in India.

The gallery recently featured the outstanding works of caricaturist YS Nanjunda Swamy, whose works are showcased in this three-part photo-essay. Swamy joins us for a full-length interview in Part II of this article, and VG Narendra in Part III.

(Note: These photographs from the gallery were taken before the national lockdown due to the coronavirus. The visit to the gallery was not in violation of any public safety guidelines.)

Nanjunda Swamy, a resident of Shivamogga, is a relatively new entrant to the world of cartoonists. Known for his vigour and enthusiasm, he has evolved as a fine cartoonist and caricaturist in a short span of time, Narendra describes.

Creating cartoons and caricatures on a daily basis, his work reaches out to and amuses people through social media and newspapers. Swamy’s father was an artist and painter. As a child, Swamy grew up in an artistic environment, and his father was his first art teacher.

He later studied under the guidance of master sculptor K Jnaneshwar. Swamy practiced traditional and commercial art, and was associated with artists like Ramadhyani, Megaravalli Subramanya, and James Vaz.

Having made his mark in commercial art, he moved to Bengaluru at the age of 50, where he began his foray into cartooning. James Vaz, a veteran artist of Taranga magazine, was among those who recognised and promoted his talents.

Swamy was also influenced by Karnataka’s senior cartoonists like Prakash Shetty, Gujjar, Narendra, Naganath, and Satish Acharya, and received valuable inputs from various cartoonists groups. In four years, he produced over 200 caricatures and 1,000 cartoons.

He has been a participant and winner in many caricature contests such as International Caricature Spirit Contest (India), Traditional Caricature Art Contest, and Vyangya Tharanga Caricature Contest.

“Health is the most precious asset we can ever have. During these difficult times of pandemic, humour proves to be one of the best medicines to boost our immunity and mental wellbeing,” Swamy explains, in a chat with YourStory.

“Humour helps us keep our mind fresh and induces healthy thought processes. Humour has the power to divert one’s mind from daily routine and helps us to be relaxed and joyous,” he adds.


“The national and international cartoon exhibitions that are constantly held in the Indian Cartoon Gallery have been a great source of inspiration,” Swamy says. He asks: “What greater happiness can I ask for than to have my cartoons exhibited in this very gallery?”

His caricatures cover figures from the worlds of politics, movies and sports. See if you can identify the musicians, gurus and artists in this selection as well!

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and unleash your inner creative voice?

Nanjunda Swamy (right)

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See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Suman Singh


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