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The French connection

It will be the most fulfilling creative trip for the seven Chennai artists, who have been selected to exhibit their works at the prestigious Salon de Printemps, 2002 in France.

SEVEN ARTISTS from Chennai have been selected to participate in the prestigious Salon de Printemps, 2002 at the Societe Lyonnaise des Beaux-Arts in France from March 9 to April 1.

Three works of each artist will be shown at the Salon. More than a 100 artists from all over the world have been invited to exhibit painting, sculpture and applied art. The opportunity for the Chennai artists came about through A.V. Ilango, who had illustrated a book sponsored by a French charitable organisation in aid of educating underprivileged children. The quality of these illustrations gained him an entry into the exhibition last year where he received the celebrated Award of the Committee for his contribution to Indian art and sensibility.

This year, Ilango is a special invitee at the Salon. His "Utsav" series primarily in ochres and browns, is accented by reds and oranges, and reflects his upbringing in rural Gobichettipalayam. The diagonal emphasis and the rhythmically rendered poetic lines energise his canvases that celebrate the folk idiom. The highly evolved yet simple figures are characteristic of Ilango. The others chosen are: Lakshmi Srinath, Rajny Krishnan, Reena Kochar, Shalini Biswajit, Swapna Reddy and Thejo Menon. They are all alumnae of the Department of Fine Arts, Stella Maris College, but have been treading different paths in exploring their creativity, working in interior design, art education and garment design.

Lakshmi, Reena, Swapna and Thejo have worked under Ilango, himself a self-taught artist, who has directed them towards individualistic creativity and expression, consciously avoiding his own influence. They along with Rajny, are also part of Amarantos, a group of women artists who work and sometimes exhibit their works together. Shalini who runs the Forum Art Gallery has been instrumental in organising the successful preview of the Salon-selected works at the Russian Cultural Centre in Chennai last month. She works with various media insidiously exploring her themes. Her "Flight" series is inspired by the familiar vista of the Marina beach swathed in an array of brilliant hues, where hope and imagination can take flight with the kites in the sky.

Lakshmi inculcates an intrinsically Indian sensibility using the idiom of the thread in her series "Connecting Cords". Employing vibrant yet earthy tones potent with religious and cultural symbolism she evokes the ambience of the South Indian Hindu household bound by its rituals. The figurative paintings of Reena explore the Indian woman's mind, her emotions and identity. The Gauguinesque figures rendered in sensual lines serve to expose the charade of their everyday lives. Where Reena deals with the reality of the routine, Swapna's paintings are on an idealistic plane, using abstract forms to reveal abstract truths. The viewer needs to look beyond the surface to read the philosophical connotations of the colours and contours. Thejos inspirations are drawn from Kerala and embody the potent drama and dazzling vivacity of Kathakali. The bold lines and colours tend towards abstraction yet embody the intrinsic masculinity of the dance form.

Rajny, the only sculptress in the group, has worked in bronze, creating forms that flow rhythmically with line and space blending into one another to achieve a lyrical fluidity both in structure and meaning. Solids and voids engage in expressive relationships as in "Web of Love" and "Awaiting Dawn". These young artists are excited to be part of this international exposition. It is indeed a welcome accolade for these artists, who until now have not been part of the national scene to gain recognition abroad. The people of France have much to gain, as they will be privy to a wonderful vision of Indian talent in the works of these promising artists, which reflect profound Indian sensibilities.

SWAPNA SATHISH

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