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A brush with rice

Vijay Sekhar is not like any other painter who gives his thoughts a shape on a canvas. He prefers other media like rice, grains and seeds instead.


BRUSH STROKES: At work.

FORGET ARCHIES and De Beers diamonds... gift a grain of rice painted with a visage of choice to your gal next Valentine! Such a zany idea comes alive in the deft fingers of Vijay Sekhar who literally has a brush with rice on the marbelled steps of Birla temple.

A Class IX dropout, Sekhar, 35, hailing from Kasaranenivaripalem found painting on rice much more exciting than his family vocation of growing rice. A chance exposure to the miniature paintings in Salarjung Museum egged him on to adopt rice painting as a full time career even as his family ridiculed him.


BULL'S EYE: Size does not matter.

Landing in the city with a hazy future, he found a customer in Saroornagar. Borrowing Rs. 60, he bought a couple of brushes and a bottle of colour. He wrote the name `Ravi' on rice and packed it in a matchbox, as he could not afford a plastic box.

"Tears rolled down my eyes when the customer paid me Rs. 20... it was so inspiring," says Sekhar nostalgically, trimming his triple zero brush wee bit more to execute a difficult request from a Japanese tourist.

Most customers are happy to have their names, birthday and New Year greetings recorded but then there was a crazy customer from U.P., who wanted to declare his love in blood.


MINIATURE ART: Marriages may be made in heaven but they could be immortalised on sapota seeds.

"The sight of blood was repulsive. By the time I wrote his beloved's name in blood on rice, he had to shed blood a couple of times," recounts Sekhar with a grimace. Names apart, he has even painted the pictures of Indira Gandhi, Lincoln and Mother Teresa on various seeds.

Sekhar prefers basmati rice not because it is long but due to its sturdiness. He uses watercolours as it dries quickly and permits lamination by enamel coating. Though rice is the staple `food' for his art, Sekhar is equally adept with sapota and sesame seeds and even a strand of hair.

The Dasavatharam painting, which won him the coveted State award, depicts Lord Vishnu's ten avatars pictorially, with names of each incarnation, on ten grains of rice.

During his recent visit to Dubai, this `rythu bidda' from the country wrote the names of the Sheikhs both in Arabic and English on a single grain of rice proving, perhaps, that the famous Indian basmati rice not only makes delicious biriyani but is also an excellent objet d'art for a creative Indian artist.

Text and pictures by RABINDRA SAMEERAN

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