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Promoting the majestic animal

`Life-like' images of the tiger in myriad moods are painted by Wali.



LANGUID GRACE: Wali has captured the sinews well.

Tyger Tyger burning bright

In the forests of the night...

WILLIAM BLAKE'S famous lines on the tiger immediately come to mind on viewing the works of Wali mounted at the Daira Centre for Arts and Culture. For the stark realism. The tiger is not just the majestic animal one sees so vividly reflected in the oil paintings but it is also one of the national animals under threat. Today the tiger is the subject of debate and the senior artist Wali could not have chosen a more opportune moment to depict the myriad moods of the animal.



FEARFUL SYMMETRY: Lord of all he surveys.

Wali has been painting for many decades. A keen traveller, he is, like most artists, influenced by what he sees. Be it landscapes or figurative art, his works bear the imprint of memory. A chance view of the serial `Living on the Edge' compered by Naseeruddin Shah where the episode of discussion revolved around the tiger motivated him to paint the grandeur of the animal. The physicality of the animal is portrayed well in the 17 canvases. The artist seems to have a good understanding of the anatomy of the animal which has helped him to paint the sinews well. The depictions are replete with real-life situations - like the tiger with the cubs, at the waterfront, emerging from the bushes and so on. Photographic references perhaps served as aids in the process. The animal is `life-like' - but the backdrop varies. And the landscape is mostly out of memory. Therefore there is a poster-like quality imparted to the background.

In fact one may even feel that these paintings could pass off as large posters. For such is their `realistic' quality. Today realism seems to be `re-emerging' in art with many artists subscribing to it particularly in Kerala. Realism (though it may have been subjected to criticism) in a way serves a purpose - it helps create an awareness and helps people come closer to art and artists as the works are easy to understand unlike most art which is high brow and incomprehensible. A simple straightforward painting would be viewed perhaps by more people than is the normal case. A commercial element too is inbuilt into this. `Realistic' paintings perhaps have a better saleability than others.



TERRIBLE BEAUTY: Exulting in the physicality of the tiger.

This exhibition on tigers is also serving a functional purpose. It has also provided a platform for promoting the image of the tiger through Kids for Tigers, a Sanctuary Brittannia Tiger Programme. The exhibition is on view till tomorrow.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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