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Tracing `shadows' of the artist

Annapoorna Sitaram's versatility as an artist is reflected in the ease with which she moves from one medium to the other. Her latest effort - `Shadows', an exhibition of computer graphics, is on at Daira, Centre for Arts and Culture.


CHILDHOOD EVOKES memories in all. These nostalgic years flow past one's mind repeatedly or awaken you many a time stirring your senses or your thoughts. The `mosaic' of events, happenings and incidents are invariably embedded in the brain and surge forward as memories as one goes on in years and with life. For an artist these can form part of their oeuvre. Annaporna Sitaram's show `Shadows', an exhibition of computer graphics mounted at Daira, Centre for Arts and Culture, brings back memories and emotions of childhood. Her narration combining various techniques drawing you into virtual reality lend verisimilitude to the emotions she portrays through her skilled approach - superimposing drawings on photographs rummaged from the past.

Computer is a very common imaging tool these days, which is used for applied arts (commercial). But when it comes to Annapoorna Sitaram, who is a fine artist, it takes special significance because even today artists take pleasure in handling the medium they work in.

To adopt the computer as a tool is not easy and Annapoorna surmounted all the difficulties to produce the vivid imagery of childhood. A self-taught artist who learnt Chinese painting and print-making through continuing education programmes in the United States, she has also moved to other media like pastels, charcoals and now computer graphics. In the course of her artistic journey she was drawn to feminist ideology, which is reflected in her works. Like every artist her oeuvre spans a gamut of ideas in different media. But what has constantly attracted her is the line. So the emphasis and endeavour has been on the line. Annapoorna's works have always reflected what she has learnt - be it the line (which is evident in print-making) or the concept of space she learnt from Chinese painting.


What has often bothered her is whether the art is important or the statement one is making is important. "One needs to explore not just the intellectual but also the emotional," she says. Therefore the new `perspective' on children. For this she had to go back in space and time perhaps but it is expressed without a `veil of sentimentality'. The nostalgia is there but "sweet and syrupy," as she says.

She chose to portray this using the computer as a tool - mastering it first to create a `new' reality through the `virtual' one - juxtaposing absolute reality with fantasy and memories.

The photograph portraying the hard stony ground or leaves and petals taken by the artist herself forms the backdrop. The metaphor for the adult is the shadows of the child that fall on the ground which become the setting for bringing forth the emergent child. Children invariably are solemn - this is where the emotion comes in. Metaphors such as butterfly, cloth, river, canoe, kite which are raked up from the past are common leitmotifs in the works.

With skilful play of textures, colour and space, Annapoorna is able to arrest the attention of the viewer. A thinking artist, she is able to draw upon the storehouse of memories coupling it with feelings to produce a statement of the fragmented existence of adulthood. The paintings are printed on Somerset velvet paper and two on canvas.

A strong advocate of technology, she feels that it can be used by artists to their advantage. Annapoorna is perhaps one of the few woman artists to have used computer as a tool and this show is one of the first computer graphics show. "There are lots of possibilities on the computer," says this techy-freak. Despite the usage of the computer, there is an emotional element - a statement of her feelings.

"Art, unfortunately, is still an elitist medium today. It is certainly for the classes and not masses. But computer art is accessible to many today," says Annapoorna vouching for it.

For an artist who loves to explore her ideas in different media, Annapoorna is branching out to ceramics - in fact she is learning chemistry and firing techniques and plans to set up her studio shortly where her ambition is to create 3D images on the theme of children.



Annaporna Sitaram

She "stresses that pain and experience of life are the most important ingredients to express oneself fully and truthfully through an artistic media." And she "captures all these emotions in a poem that was written by her in 1999:

Wrest from memories
a mirage
of fanciful images
and starbust hues
twirl dance and play
amidst these refractions
and sing
I am alive.

The exhibition is open for viewing till December 14 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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