Bengaluru : Many people are in the fond practice of complaining every now and then that they hardly get any time to pursue their passions. Maybe, they could be genuine in their own ways, but never ever in the case of the veteran artist, political cartoonist, caricaturist, children’s illustrator, and also into multimedia, Banagere Gangaiah Gujjarappa. Perhaps BG Gujjarappa or Gujjar as he is popularly well-known is a household name to readers of Newspapers, Tabloids, Periodicals, and a variety of books for several decades.

Hemavathi connection: Sexagenarian BG Gujjarappa (03 June 1955), belongs to Doddabanagere village in the hitherto drought-prone Sira Taluk of Tumakuru district. Doddabanagere also happens to be the last village of Sira Taluk bordering Hemavathi village, an artist’s paradise in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The Siddeshwara Temple is renowned for the four famous Shiva shrines as Lord Shiva appears in the human form, like in seated yoga posture, deep in meditation etc. quite unusual elsewhere. BG Gujjarappa has been visiting this place, once a capital city of the Nolamba Pallava dynasty during the 7th and 8th centuries. Pallava and Chola’s style of temple architecture is the highlight of temple architecture. Looking back, it seems the art, culture and sculpture of this sought-after tourist destination knowingly or unknowingly had a long-lasting impact on him as a child and got imbibed in him at a later stage.

No Arts Degree or background: It may sound strange, but yes; Banagere G Gujjarappa literally has no artistic family background forget having done any formal courses in Fine arts despite his tryst with the pen, brush and colours over a period of 56 years! He admits-“I studied MA in History and accidentally went into cartooning. I was a professional cartoonist all through my life but never went to any art school. However, I was into drawing from my childhood days and I was doing so all, on my own”.

Refuge to experimenter of sorts: Probably, BG Gujjarappa by profession is an experimenter of art forms. For instance, he took to the pen when he was merely 12 years old as a form of refuge from interactions. His humble and rustic background handicapped him with language, confidence and exposure to the real world around him. Hence, over a period of time, his art itself evolved into his mode of interaction.

Initial career as a lecturer: BG Gujjarappa, recalling his life journey says-“I started my career as a lecturer and switched to work as a Cartoonist for a weekly and later to a daily newspaper. I worked in the print media for over 16 years and switched over to multimedia as a graphic consultant”.

Illustration of over 1,000 books for children: He adds-“Over a period of 25 years, I have illustrated over 1,000 books for children apart from various assorted books. I have also written, illustrated and published six children’s books while my caricatures have been syndicated to a very popular syndicate in the industry. My comic strips without captions have been syndicated to over 25 newspapers. I have also done commissioned caricatures of several chief ministers and prime ministers apart from CEOs’ of several companies. I love spot caricaturing”.

Unique themes, strong lines: Gujjar’s art forms are easily noticeable for their unique themes, strong lines, order and harmony in forms, related colour schemes, inter-connectedness of the human form and natural elements, and universal love…, all are typically characteristic of his signature style.

Inspiration from early masters of modern art: BG Gujjarappa exclaims-“I draw inspiration from early masters of modern art; the Bengal and the Bombay school of paintings and blend them to give a distinct flavour that doesn’t find any categorization”. The free spirit he is, Gujjar likes it that way. As a true student of Mother Nature and the arts, Gujjar exclaims-“I am discovering something every day while my best is yet to come!” As a perpetual observer he tends to see the world through a lens of heightened colours, emotions, and magnified details and no minute is spent without filling in art.

Major published works: His cartoons have been published in Praja Vani, Deccan Herald, Kannada Prabha, Indian Express, Times of India and comic strips in Sudha weekly. He has also published his cartoons in magazines like Caravan, Animal World, Wisecrack, Mayura and Bulletin of Science, to name a few. He did pocket cartoons for Praja Vani during 1982-84 and 1992-94 and “Chimpu” pocket cartoons for children for Evening Herald.

500 cover designs: He has designed cover pages for about 500 magazines, books and illustrated books and prepared 75 colour transparencies for Syndicate Bank. He is also an author and illustrator of Children’s Encyclopedia in Kannada with 300 illustrations, published by Nava Karnataka Publishers. He also did the “Putani Puttu” comic strip for the ‘Suddi Sangati’ weekly magazine for 30 weeks.

National publications: He was also the author and illustrator of a children’s book titled ‘MITHA & MAGIC SHOES’, published by National Book Trust, New Delhi in all major Indian languages. He also illustrated a book “ENERGY” by Prof Sen Gupta and published by NCERT, New Delhi. He drew cartoons and did cover pages for artworks for the “Bulletin of Science” magazine published by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. His cartoons and caricatures were also published by Business Standard, Business World and The Economic Times, New Delhi.

Health, science and politics: Perhaps there is no field with which BG Gujjarappa is not associated with in his works. He did a mural painting for the Health & Family Welfare Services Department, Government of Karnataka. He also designed cartoon projection slides and signboards for Bengaluru Planetarium and commissioned caricatures for Dr Chandrasekhar, a Nobel Prize winner and scientist, at IUCA, Pune. He did title card caricatures for “Conductor Kariyappa”, a popular TV serial telecasted from Bengaluru Doordarshan. He designed 85 postures for all major political parties. He was a Design and Animation Consultant for CD titles (NIIT), like Matter, Journey to the Living Planet Heat, Light and Metals. He designed CD labels (NIIT), for Heat, Air and Water, Hunt for Satonica, The World of Plants, Atoms Elements and Compounds and Digital Geometry.

Publications in international magazines: His three selected best cartoons were published in, “The Best of World Political Cartoons”, published by the Witty World, USA and in the collection of the International Nasseredin Hodja Festival of cartoons, Turkey. He contributed 22 colour cartoons for the Information and Management Counselors’, Hampshire, UK. He illustrated cartoons for “BUSINESS PROCESS ANALYSIS”, by Geoffrey Danton and Moksha Danton, published by the Thomson Business Press, London. He illustrated and designed two books, Kakande’s Story and Kristina’s Story for the Government of Uganda on AIDS awareness program through comics format for kids.

Participation in exhibitions and competitions: BG Gujjarappa has held several one-man shows of cartoons and caricatures in the home state and elsewhere. Some of his international engagements are as follows:

*International Nasreeddin Hodja Festival of Cartoon Competition, Turkey.

*22nd World Cartoon Gallery Competition, Osten.

*4th Biennial of Humor Competition, Norway.

*Italia 90 Competition.

*3rd Festival of International Political Cartoons Competition, Belgium.

*43rd International Salon of Humor Competition.

*12th International Festival of Humorous Drawing Competition, France.

*17th International Exposition of Humor of Piracicaba, Brazil.

*13th International Cartoon Exhibition, Berinigen, Belgium.

*5th Toejon International Cartoon Competition, Korea, winning Bronze prize.

*7th Toejon International Cartoon Competition, Korea, winning Vth prize.

Multimedia and Graphics:

*Under his supervision and design, four titles of interactive animated storytelling CD ROMs’, 1. SHAKAL, 2.JUNGLE WHISPERS, 3. TEMPLE OF LOST GLORY, 4. BIRBAL have been produced.

*Contributed to CD-ROM Animation Graphics and Character Designing for the story, ‘PAPU AND DHAIMU’ (PANCHATANTRA) and ‘THE VOYAGERS RETURN’.

*Specialized Software: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw.

*Developed Animations on Macromedia Director and Flash.

 

Cartoons in whatever space available: R Suri, a veteran septuagenarian artist and himself an expert in varied art forms, applaud the unique capabilities of BG Gujjarappa-“The most astonishing characteristic of Gujjar is his tremendous capability of drawing a cartoon in whatever piece of paper is available to him. For people like me, I try to be cautious to have some margin on all four sides of the paper. But, it never happens so in the case of Gujjar. He keeps working for his cartoon characters even on tissue paper while waiting in a hotel. Forget tissue, you tell him what you need and he will ensure the same even on a paper piece of minuscule or negligible size”.

One among World’s top 100 Cartoonists’: R Suri also reveals another interesting, accomplishing feat worth recollecting here-“Gujjar is also one of the world’s top 100 Cartoonists”.

Doesn’t waste even a minute: Prof Babu Jattakar, Faculty of Applied Art and former Principal, College of Fine Arts Karnataka Chitra Kala Parishat opines-“Gujjarappa sir neither keeps quiet nor wastes any time. He is always engaged with the pen, if not with the brush and there can be no count on the number of drawings he keeps doing every day at an unimaginable speed. In fact, he doesn’t even waste a minute idling nor does he complain about paucity of time for delivering any assignment”.

Memorable reminisces with P Lakesh and KP Poornachandra Tejasvi: Perhaps any write-up about BG Gujjarappa without mentioning his reminisces with P Lankesh and KP Poornachandra Tejasvi can only be incomplete! Palyada Lankeshappa, an English Professor at Bengaluru University turned Kannada poet, short story writer, novelist, and filmmaker ended up an Editor of “Lankesh Patrike”, a tabloid that made a terrific impact and gave rise to a new generation of readers and writers in the early eighties of the previous century. Kuppalli Puttappa Poornachandra Tejasvi awakened the minds of the vernacular readers like never before through his writings on science and the environment. His multiple tastes and talents continue to haunt the generations to come. And BG Gujjarappa was blessed to have been closely associated with both of these towering personalities for a pretty long period of time. But, if you tempt to inquire him about his reminisces with both of them, they will only lead to a series of articles or even perhaps a few books as well.