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From a deeply spiritual hand

G. Subramanian feels that the past is less transient than everything else.

THE SPIRITUAL has the ability to alter forms, walls and boundaries. It has a looking glass with a line running down its centre that it holds to reality. G. Subramanian's perspective has been altered by this connection with the spiritual. He says spirituality is very important because it purifies you and you are able to see everything in a positive light. Quite in keeping with his belief of the positive, there is no apparent or hidden darkness in his works. One does not see so much as the hint of a shadow.

There are three kinds of works on exhibit. The first is his earliest, ink-line drawings of the series called The Sacred Book Pages which brings the erotic and the spiritual together on the same canvas. In these, the lines are intricate and continuous. Subramanian says the philosophy of `Nitya Karma Vidhi' made a deep impact in his mind and he wanted to draw the everydayness of feelings, thoughts, and actions.

Two people whose teachings that the artist follows carefully are the saints Ramalingaswamy and Ramana Maharshi. Subramanian uses the early hours of the morning to paint and create. He spends some part of the day meditating too. This, he believes, gives his life a lot of quality.

The second series is the She series for which Subramanian has taken his students as subjects. He says that maybe it was the face of a young girl in all its delight and innocence was what he wanted to capture. As fellow artist Lina Vincent comments: "Living and working in Jeddah for most part of the year, he enjoys teaching children the finer points of art, and it is this that inspired him to work on the most beguiling She series. Some of them turn their large innocent eyes toward the viewer, some coyly turn away, as if trying to hide a secret, yet others boldly gaze at an almost palpable adversary. They are like real people, and the artist has described not only their forms, but their very thoughts, through his intricate lines."

The other thing that the series has is the presence of playthings — except, like the artist says, it is very unlike the dolls and teddy bears children have today. He paints little birds or a beautiful flower as playthings for the girls. He says that what he remembers of his childhood in the village is how the love of Nature meant everything to him. Children in his village played with the things Nature made available to them.This going back to the past is a very clear direction in Subramanian's work. Mostly sepia-tinged, like old photographs, the She series show a leaning toward the past. Subramanian says that sepia helps to give the paintings a sense of permanence. He himself has a fascination for turning back and the journeying into what were glorious years. For some reason, Subramanian feels that the past is less transient than anything else is.

The third series that the artist has on display shows complete letting go. After staying with strict form, texture and style, he feels the need to break free, that he mustn't be bound anymore, and so has set out exploring the palette.

What is apparent here is that the colours have been transferred onto the canvases without any straining, without any communication. Colours need to have this conversation with you before they go on stage. And if they are not convinced, they don't convince. Subramanian says that the colour paintings came naturally. He used Nature as his subject in these works.

By far, the ink drawings are impressive with all their fading edges and the grand-looking ancient Tamil script.

Lines Colours Side By Side, an exhibition of recent paintings by G. Subramanian, is on till October 22 at the Lakshana Art Gallery, Race Course Road, Ph: 2207946.

NETRA SHYAM

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