...............The Indian Institute of Cartoonists is organising Strokes and Slashes—an exhibition of the works of Mr. Gireesh Vengara a well known cartoonist at the Indian Cartoon Date: April 25 to May 9................
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Glimpse into powerful strokes

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Glimpse into powerful strokes

Gireesh describes himself as a Bangalore-based cartoonist, artist, creative designer and ex-sulker whose lines, strokes and colours are his tools, play things and weapons.

Cartoons should be one of the most important weapons in a newspaper’s armoury of political analysis.There was a time when in-house cartoonists were highly respected members of the editorial staff of every newspaper worth its salt. In fact, a cartoonist was a journalist who could draw his thoughts which were mostly original, incisive and succinct commentaries of the social and political scenario of the time. Sadly, today the role of a cartoonist has been usurped by paid artists who draw to order and merely to illustrate an article,” that was senior journalist John Thomas addressing the gathering at Strokes and Slashes, an exhibition of political cartoons by Gireesh Vengara.

Gireesh describes himself as a Bangalore-based cartoonist, artist, creative designer and ex-sulker whose lines, strokes and colours are his tools, play things and weapons. He uses his art to reflect and comment on the political scenario in the country.

Unlike a news article or column, a cartoon has the capacity to almost instantaneously dissect or highlight a political issue and can often have more impact and insight than wordy text-based analysis by the greatest political analysts in the country. Gireesh’s first cartoon appeared in Malayala Manorama and since then in several other publications. This exhibition was a study of well-known political figures and situations caricatured and represented with irony and satire.

From Advani to Sonia Gandhi and several politicians and their henchmen in between, there is plenty of substance to keep the cartoon buff entertained. The exhibition was inaugurated by Balan Nambiar, the Bangalore-based artist.
“The political cartoon can be a devastating weapon, making readers laugh out loud in agreement or writhe with frustration and anger. To create a cartoon that strikes a chord with the public requires inspiration, lateral thinking, and the ability to see humour where others see only ‘news’,” he says.
“To do it consistently everyday, takes a certain type of mind and intelligence. Therefore, if cartooning, an intelligent and satirical art form, is not given its due place in society and cartoonists were relegated to the position of artisans, the craft as we know it may soon die out and be lost forever. Great cartoonists like Murthy and Maya Kamath may never emerge from future generations of talented journalists who should be nurtured and groomed right from journalist school,” John Thomas added.

Cartoons take a dig at politics ( Deccan Chronicle)

Cartoons take a dig at politics

People crib and cry about the things theydon’t like, but Gireesh Vengara decided to make the world smile and take notice of the things he didn’t like about politics. The result was an acclaimed cartoonist in the making. After working for daily publications, he has decided to showcase all his collections, with the backing of The Indian Institute of Cartoonists.

His cartoons are based on political satires. In the midst of elections, they manage to make you smile and address issues at the same time. Talking about his approach, he says, “All my cartoons are based on politics and what better time to have an exhibition than now, when elections are the talk of town. All of them are against political illnesses that I feel strongly against and I want the audience to connect with that,” says Gireesh.

Gireesh started cartooning at a young age and his first cartoon was published when he was in his teens. After that, there was no turning back. Every illustration is conceived and created solely by him. Talking about the process, he says, “Drawing the cartoon is easy, forming the concept and its social and political relevance is what takes time. All my cartoons have been appreciated by people and have also been approved by the editorial board of the paper I worked with, so I’m very happy.” With over 70 old and new cartoons on display, get ready for a rib-tickling session.

His exhibition Strokes and Slashes is on at the Indian Cartoon Gallery, No.1, Midford House, Midford Garden, Off MG Road, near Big Kids Kemp


Strokes of genius ( Midday- 08-05-2009)

Strokes of genius

Gireesh Vengara tells you why even heads of government, monarchs and ministers fear political cartoonists

If you think cartoons are stock illustrations published in a corner of your newspaper, think again. A cartoon is perhaps the most viewed and loved section of the paper.What strikes you about Gireesh Vengara, whose political cartoons are currently on display at Midford House, off MG Road, is the air of seriousness he wears. He believes that his cartoons "must carry forth a message".
You are a painter, a designer and a cartoonist. Which of these roles do you enjoy the most?
Cartoonist, without a doubt! When I was young, I used to doodle in class and my Malayalam teacher would encourage me. When my neighbour's cartoons were published in a weekly magazine, I was inspired to mail some of my stuff to a popular weekly. My first cartoon was published in Malayala Manorama when I was 18years old, and that gave me the confidence to send my cartoons to other publications as well. For a short while, I worked in a newspaper. Winning the Best Cartoonist Award in 1988 from the Kerala Cartoon Academy and Brushman School of Fine Arts, will remain my most memorable moment.
What, according to you, is the hallmark of a good political cartoonist?
One has to be well-read and well-informed, especially with regard to current affairs. My day begins with browsing through a stack of newspapers. Sometimes, an idea is triggered and the cartoon becomes a product of an insight to a piece of news.
Weren't you ever tempted into trying your hand at comic strips?
Politics is my obssession. I used to be angry with politicians , and like most people in India, I would crib and complain. But I realised that I had a very powerful weapon that was adored by the masses by abhorred by corrupt politicians, and that's why I took to cartooning. Through my cartoons I highlight the follies of the government. Cartooning is my way of trying to reform society.
Do you make use of any graphic tools to create your cartoons?
No, I don't. I colour my cartoons using Photoshop. But creating my cartoons is all through the power of my hands. Handstrokes have immense strength. Moreover, I believe, every cartoonist's originality lies in his hands. This is what gives a cartoonist his original style and makes him different from the rest.
If you had to give one tip to all the aspiring cartoonists, what would it be?
My only advice to them would be that they shouldn't treat cartooning as a hobby. A good cartoon is one that has a message to convey.
Tell us about your painting.
My first series, called Energy and Power, is almost complete.
he medium is the message: Gireesh Vengara says he took up cartooning after realising the futility of cribbing about corrupt netas.

Tooning into the past ( indian express )

Tooning into the past
BANGALORE: With no offence to the politicos, there are very few people who are inspired by the often-corrupt leaders. One group among them are the caricaturists and cartoonists.

City-based cartoonist Gireesh Vengara’s works have also found their muse in the world of netas and their netagiri. Also a creative consultant and painter, he is known to be a ‘sulk-er’ who is generally annoyed with everything that’s wrong with the world. He creatively vents his disappointment with the First Estate through his illustrations. He has compiled some of his best political cartoons published in various publications since 2003 under the title ‘Strokes and Slashes’.

An exhibition of his work is currently on at the Indian Cartoon Gallery till May 9. ‘Strokes and Slashes’ revives the political scenario of the recent past. The characters and situations in his work are stale, but that they are exhibited now -- during elections — make them appealing.

The works are a satirical take on the prominent leaders, parties and issues of the said period. Debatable issues like the foreign origin of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Karnataka- Tamil Nadu row over Cauvery water, curbing of freedom of press in Tamil Nadu and more are the subjects. There are also works that mock at the ‘India Shining’ campaign, the fiasco brought on by the rising number of opposition parties and allies, saffronisation in political agenda and the never ending duel between Congress and BJP. One cartoon exemplifying the last-mentioned issue has BJP leader LK Advani saying ‘Ayodhya not a poll issue’ and Sonia Gandhi voicing out ‘foreign origin not a big issue’.

Poonam Biswakarma

Strokes and Slashes Inaguration

The Indian Institute of Cartoonists is organising Strokes and Slashes—an exhibition of the works of Mr. Gireesh Vengara a well known cartoonist at the Indian Cartoon Gallery. Mr. Balan Nambiar well known artist and sculptor will be inaugurating the exhibition.

Cartooning in decline

John Thomas, who has worked in the The Statesman, Deccan Herald and Vijay Times, holding various top-level posts in a career spanning more than 30 years, and who went on to teach in journalism schools, speaks on the decline of cartooning at the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore. Currently, he teaches journalism students in Garden City College, Bangalore. The exhibition was held by Gireesh Vengara.

Cartooning in decline

Respected ladies and gentlemen of art and art lovers and fellow dignitaries called to do the honours, need I say what a privilege it is for to be in your midst.

To be invited to be chief guest at the opening of Gireesh Vengara's first exhibition of his works at the place for the art of cartooning in our state is a matter of pride, as I can claim I walked him through the doors to Vijay Times where he did his stint in English newspaper cartooning, just like I did the late Maya Kamath a decade earlier to Deccan Herald.

But that joy is also tinged with a sense of sorrow, in that he is not cartooning in another English daily. (of course Vijay Times itself is no more).

Irony, like satire and sarcasm, is integral to cartooning. It is the irony about the profession itself that I wish to submit for your thought on this occasion when we celebrate the achievements of Gireesh. I do that with the pain of a journalist who grew up watching and adoring cartoonists and one who rose to be in a position to have a say in what got printed in three publications -- the Deccan Herald, The Statesman and Vijay Times -- in the last two decades of my working life.

I dare say that journalists have been the destroyers of the cartoonist and cartooning.
Time was, when the cartoonist was a revered member of the editorial team of newspapers. Every self-respecting newspaper had larger-than-life cartoonists whose works adorned the front pages in three and even four column sizes, two or three times a week, in addition to the pocket cartoons on page one.

The cartoon was an editorial in the graphic form -- while the pundits in the papers wrote miles of text to say the same thing. The cartoonist was a journalist, regarded one of us, nay.. in a way, one above us. In my younger years, a cartoonist was an Assistant Editor by rank and occupied a cabin just like the other assistant editors who wrote editorials and those ponderous articles. Under the Working Journalists' Act, the cartoonist was a working journalist and no less.

What is the situation today?

How many cartoonists can we now count in the field of journalism after the turn of the century? The Shankars of this world were respected by the doyens of our polity in an Independent India. From that pantheon of giants -- it feels like a generation ago -- perhaps just a Lakshman and Dhar survive. Why have we not seen the ascendance of a worthy second or third generation?

It is not as if our country ran out of talent or that we suffered a talent drain to the West or to the Gulf, when the last two or three decades has been marked by the growth in the number of artists, the phenomenal growth in the business of art and acknowledgement and support to training institutions, however inadequate that may seem.

The fact is, art and artists have indeed grown. The print media has also grown and editors and managements became even more art conscious as reflected in the design, layout and production quality. What we see in the scenario is: cartooning has made way for illustrations and graphics in all the print publications. Illustrators who readily gave up the palette and brush for the computer to create images in Photoshop, Corel Draw and Paint began to populate the field as cartoonists retired and cartooning as we once knew it gasped and died.

Let me come to my thesis of why I think journalists are responsible for this slow assassination of a respected cerebral art form.

As I mentioned earlier, a newspaper cartoonist of yesteryear was a journalist. He was one of us with our intellectual arrogance. He was accepted as a journalist who could draw his thoughts and, as such, someone we regarded an equal, but privately held in awe. They were educated like us, could think like us and write like us. They were people like us. They were thinkers in their own right whom we could not order around.

Over the years, with the interest in design and colour increasing, the journalists (they after all are the ones who make executive decisions in editorial matters) began to hire artists who could draw to order. They were not taken on the same level as a journalist. They were part of the art or design department. The journalists got used to asking them for illustrations and soon, the journalists became the thinkers who gave the script and told them to draw on order -- just the reverse of what the cerebral cartoonists of yesteryear did.

Why? Because they were fancifully called editorial artists. And not people like us. They were often from the art schools and fell victim to the class bias -- of how we treat artisans in society. So, with journalists asserting their exclusive right to be the editorial thinkers and script writers, cartooning was reduced to what we can only call comics or illustrations. Dubyaman became the example of the evolution -- script by the journalist (Jug Suraiya) and drawing by the artist (Neelabh Banerjee).

This is less so in language journalism because there, unlike in English, the artist is more comfortable with the idiom of thought, the metaphors, the phrases and the allegories. The language of thought and thereby of business of the publication did indeed cause a class distinction.

How does this situation change?
I remember the opening of this Cartoonists' Gallery -- created by a private vision and finance to encourage cartoonists by holding exhibitions, like what we are inaugurating now, to give them exposure and to hold workshops and interactive sessions to improve their professional standing. What I would plead is, do not give up honouring cartoonists already in business. But actively create cartoonists who are more than artists to restore to the gifted artist the glory of what cerebral cartooning is. Identify those in journalism courses who have the gift of drawing and develop their skills.
John Thomas email id : john.greenwoods@gmail.com