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Monday, Dec 23, 2002

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New kid on the block


VIVEK VARKEY George steps back to appraise his artwork, hurriedly put up in a rough and ready gallery that on a normal day serves as his father's office. The lighting is good and the line drawing clear. The boyish grin lingers, indicating that Vivek is pleased with what he sees. Expectantly, he looks at you. "Isn't she beautiful?" The question is generic. It could mean the portrait of Mother Teresa or the nude woman standing in wait, at a shack on the seashore.


Vivek's women are indeed beautiful. Far removed from the world of accounts and numbers, the studio is a harbour where figures are imbued with romanticism, the artist zestfully asserting their femininity. The drawings are graceful, as they are deftly saved from becoming mannered. A delicate feeling, a realism of sorts, touches even the renderings from the Sistine Chapel although that is hardly what motivates this young artist.


Vivek, who recently drifted into the arena of painting, says he paints for sheer creative pleasure. A self taught artist, he debunks theories about art as easily as he dismisses the need to make original stuff. Only just realising his potential, he is satisfied in the belief that once he gains confidence the ideas will flow. As for now he regularly goes to the Net, pores over paintings and art forms done by other artists. Finally when he picks a work to reproduce, it is studied scrupulously, with a missionary zeal to stay true to the genuine. "Selection is the most important thing". So is there a particular artist or style that he looks for? "You have to find a picture that is striking and appealing at the same time". He gets to work on a cartridge paper, a surface that is demanding and doesn't lend itself easily to drawing. Over this the first pencil outlines are made. These are thereafter layered with a charcoal stick. Vivek loves his medium and is content to stick to monochromes. It is only in the portrait of Mother Teresa that he makes a concession; he gives her patent sari the blue border. The artist's budding oeuvre consists of landscapes, horses, portraits of men and women from the northeast and village scenes. There is a palpable development in his style by the time we reach his latest works.


Vivek Varkey's debut exhibition at the Chitram Art gallery concludes today.

SUNANDA KHANNA

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