Publication, exhibition, awards – Indian Cartoon Gallery celebrates the creativity of cartoonists

This has been a busy time for the Indian Cartoon Gallery. Here are some hilarious – and thought-provoking – cartoons from the ongoing exhibitions. Enjoy!
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 640 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.

The Indian Cartoon Gallery (ICG) in Bengaluru recently hosted an exhibition featuring the winners of the annual Maya Kamath Memorial Award (MKMA) Competition. There was also a showcase of cartoons of award-winning cartoonist Ajit Ninan. See our earlier photo essays on the gallery’s exhibitions from 2015 onwards.

Annual competition

The annual MKMA competition received submissions of 350 cartoons from 150 foreign cartoonists. Of these, 110 selected best entries are on display, by cartoonists from countries such as Jordan, Iran, and China.

From India, 150 cartoons were received from 50 cartoonists, of which a selection of 45 entries is being exhibited.

The featured cartoonists come from a range of cities – Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Pune, Jammu, Varanasi, Aurangabad, Udupi, Akola, Dhule, and others.

CartoonistsIndia magazine

As a part of 15th anniversary celebrations of the Indian Cartoon Gallery, the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC) also launched the inaugural issue of the annual magazine CartoonistsIndia. VG Narendra, gallery manager and curator, is also Managing Trustee of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC).

“Over a thousand copies of the magazine have already been printed. Many orders have come in for direct purchase, along with distribution to bookstores around the country,” Narendra explains, in a chat with YourStory.

“We wish to present the readers thought provoking articles on the rich history of cartoons in the world. The inaugural issue includes many research articles and exclusive works by the crème-de-la-crème of Indian cartoonists and authors,” Narendra describes.

“This issue would be a special publication to be treasured and preserved for years and handed over from one generation to another by cartoonists and cartoon lovers in India and abroad,” he affirms.

Felicitation of Ajit Ninan

Ajit Ninan

For cartoon excellence, IIC has introduced the BARTONS Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was instituted by Bharat Mehta, Managing Director of silverware brand BARTONS.

The inaugural award was bestowed on Ajit Ninan, cartoonist at The Times of India. A graduate of Madras Christian College, he started his cartooning career with the India Today group, followed by The Indian Express and Outlook.

Ninan is a recipient of the Sanskriti Award for Journalism, and Lifetime Achievement Award from Cartoon Watch magazine. He was selected by the UN as their conference cartoonist in Rio (Earth Summit), Cairo (Population Summit), Vienna (Human Rights Summit), Copenhagen (Social Summit) and Beijing (Women's Summit).

Over the years, Nina’s cartoon series have been titled Detective Moochwala, Centrestage, Poli Tricks, Just Like That!, Like That Only!, and iToons. Some of them have also found their way into popular books and compilations, such as CEOToons and Jest in Time.

Impact and role of cartoonists

“Now that we seem to be coming out of the pandemic era, cartoonists are bursting forth with more energy. It is a noticeable trend that humour, satire and wit by cartoonists are experiencing resurgent growth,” Narendra observes.

Cartoonists have an important role to play in society, beyond humour. “Cartoonists represent the voice of the common citizen. They should not be seen as anti-government – many cartoons feature opposition parties as well,” he explains.

“Whenever government or business does something wrong, it is the duty of the cartoonist to call them out and criticise them. This should help keep them on their toes and improve themselves,” Narendra signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to apply your creativity?

Winner of the 1st Prize - Sumanta Barua

Ajit Ninan (L), VG Narendra (R)

(All exhibition photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the gallery.)

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