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Hues of harmony

Akhilesh Verma's passion for colour comes through in his series of paintings titled "Apsaras", on show at Apparao Galleries, till March 1.


AKHILESH VERMA'S paintings combine geometric spirituality and heavenly harmony in the lyrical shades that generate melodious waves in spite of straight lines. Subtle curves alleviate the monotony of the horizontals and verticals, while arcs and diagonals seek to lighten the heavy triangles.

In Tantric art, triangles symbolise the yoni, but in these paintings, the shapes are not intentional for, according to the artist, they are merely the meeting of three diagonally placed lines. There is an understated tension in every painting defining its unique temperament. The precisely dividing yet indistinct contours exude a mellifluously light and ethereally elevating composition through juxtaposed colour. While one rectangle of colour may be meaningless, as a composite they render a symphony. Carefully chosen greens, blues, browns and ochres, each having its specific position dances to an eternal tune. This series of paintings on which he has been working for the past two years is titled `Apsaras,' referring to those divine beings born to seduce the senses in Indian mythology. In their distinctive manner these paintings also seduce the viewer.

"My paintings are not expressive; they present themselves, not my mood. They are not about society or the present situation of the artist. One needs to find a personal expression and yet the struggle continues through life for the artist is continually searching."

Having a father in the art profession formed an atmosphere conducive to creative expression in his childhood home, but he was disinterested in painting then. He began painting at about 17 years of age, and then went on to study painting at the Indore College of Art. Schooled in the traditional approach to art and learning by copying the Western masters, he was curious as to why the celebrated Indian mural paintings and miniatures were not considered works worthy of emulation.

Painting for him is an organic affair. One line speaks to the next, growing and never ending for the experience of painting is bigger than the canvas itself. He is interested in painting the warmth of the physical world we live in, not just the body, but colour, line and form.

Akhilesh insists that there is no connection with his works and S. H. Raza's style of painting. He explains any similarity saying "all artists are my ancestors; we are exposed to and derive from seeing other works and this affects our paintings directly or indirectly. When I saw Raza's work for the first time in 1978, I was amazed to see the colours and his work changed mine. Modern art in the West has also stressed upon colour, as seen in the works of post-painterly abstractionist painters such as Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Ellsworth Kelly. I realised the importance of colour and my later paintings placed emphasis solely on colour. I painted only in black for ten years until my experiments with tonal variation led to the use of pristine white. Now colours are my passion."

The exhibition is on at the Apparao Galleries, Wallace Garden, Third Street, until March 1.

SWAPNA SATHISH

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