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Monday, Aug 26, 2002

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Mirrored images

THERE WAS a bustle and energy about the flaming reds, greens and bright yellows that greeted the viewer at Kerala Kalapeetom, where T. Kaladharan's works were mounted. At first instance, colour seemed to permeate every facet of the picture. But a closer look teased out the treasures that lay below. A fine, sketchy outline in black gave shape to a forgotten figure.

Life has come full circle for this artist, who started of as an abstract painter. This period, he says, was marked by insecurity and an intangible passion, which weaved its way into his pictures. The frenzied backgrounds befuddle the guest but succeed in characterising his nomadic existence.

Now a far more settled man, there is a renewed intensity in his recent projects that are figurative. Colour still dominates but nothing comes along to upset the balance. The fine line drawing is as flamboyant as it is free. It marks the breaking way from all past resistances and conventions. Colour does not remain within the confines of the drawing; it flows of its own free will. It would pour out of the framework if it could but herein it's bound by the artist's medium.

Kaladharan paints on glass. He calls it orthic painting, a term coined by himself. The word comes from `orma', which in Malayalam means memory. It refers to the technique that is employed while painting on glass. Given the very nature of this medium, the artist has to paint in reverse; what the viewer sees on the right he paints on his left and vice versa. He cannot paint as he sees but relies on his recollections. Unlike other media, where the artist works directly and is on the same side of the viewer, in glass he stands on the opposite side.

His recent show, which was a preview of the exhibition to be held at Vinyasa Art Gallery in Chennai from August 22 to 28, is titled `Making My Abode'. The title has both corporeal and elusive implications. While he is in the midst of constructing his own house, it also refers to the maturity of his personality.

Of late, Kaladharan has been involved with the art direction of a Malayalam film, `Samam'. Due to certain limitations, "mostly financial", all his suggestions and aspirations could not see light of the day in the film. Kaladharan was miffed. The ramifications of this are felt in this collection of paintings. His themes are also based on what he reads. There is a strong element of satire in his works that he co-relates to the characters in the books of Basheer and VKN.

SUNANDA KHANNA

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