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Captivating depiction

Underlining the values enshrined in trees, Manasthala's exhibition `Trees in our Lives' depicts the tree in varied art forms along with a store-house of information on them.

"FOOLS CAN write poems, God alone can make trees..." Sung about as the giver, sustainer and nurturer of life, depicted as nature's most beautiful creation and a metaphor of life itself, the tree has been eulogised by poets and philosophers from the Atharva Veda's " Hymn to the Earth" through every age. Except today when their mindless destruction by man is threatening the very balance of nature's rhythms.

In an effort to underline the values enshrined in the tree, `Manasthala' has mounted an interesting exhibition `Trees in our Lives' which opened on 6th July to mark Manasthala's 5th Anniversary. The exhibition was inaugurated by Chairman, MSSR Foundation of India and architect of India's famous green revolution Prof. M.S.Swaminathan who said that the tree is the only organism capable of unilateral love. It gives shade even to the axe man who cuts it....

The `Trees in our lives' exhibition showcases trees in languages as diverse as those of madhubani, patachitra, embroidery, kalamkari, warli art, brass, line drawing and even tin sheets and metal wire. From the fantastic and surreal silver tree handcrafted out of tin sheets and wire, which dominates the exhibition, every depiction of the tree in all its symbolism captivates. The brass Krishna Leela series from U.P. with faint overtones of Oriya art are particularly beautiful, with Krishna shown with Radha playing the flute, resting or perched on a tree. The Krishna theme is again repeated in the framed madhubani panels depicting the beloved Radha — Krishna legends. With their bright colours and stylised figures in the typical madhubani genre, the tree paintings also feature paintings composed entirely of birds and animals. The huge kalamkari and Krishna Leela panels, crafted by master craftsmen are outstanding works of art. There are patachitra paintings on paper as well with their distinctive style, featuring Radha-Krishna themes played against mint green trees.

Other tree panels on display are delicately crafted warli art paintings in vivid oranges and painstakingly done embroideries on the tree theme. Live drawings in black and white and sepia tones by Bhaskar lend a touch of art to the exhibition. Exquisitely detailed and drawn are the famous banyan tree in the IIT Madras campus, the `sthala vriksha' peepul in the Sringeri mutt, a lovely spreading tree from Tiruvalam where Shiva as Nataraja is believed to have done his first dance and many more. Panels of information on the history of trees enliven the exhibition-cum-sale at Manasthala, 12 Cenotaph Road, Teynampet that ends on 24th July.

PUSHPA CHARI

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