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Audacious touches

Sarala Art Centre, which is part of Art World, celebrates its 38th anniversary with an exhibition of Babu Xavier's abstract paintings


CLAIMING THE honour of being the first art gallery in South India and celebrating 38 years in the business, Sarala Art Centre has moved premises many times having graced the Connemara and the Safire Theatre Complex among others.

Founded by Soli Daruwala in 1965, today Sarala Art Centre is part of Art World, which opened in 1997 and whose director Sarala Banerjee, was a year old when her namesake initially opened its doors to the aesthetically inclined in Chennai. Commemorating this milestone is an exhibition of paintings by the distinguished contemporary artist Babu Xavier.

Having rejected a traditionally academic art education, Babu Xavier chose to gain from associations with artist K. Jayapal Panickar and the Cholamandal Artists' Village. Bright colours forcefully speak the mind of the artist, the unadulterated intensity of carmine red competing with passionate oranges and effervescent greens. Ranging from the obscurity of blacks and browns, and venturing to audacious fluorescent shades, he created humans and animals that are suspended in surreal landscapes.

Trees with birds concealed in the foliage morph and allow their leaves to develop into eyes shedding copious tears. The eye is repeated in varied instances instilling an element of morose distancing in the viewer, becoming allusive of different connotations and remaining disturbing. More persuasive in the small format, Babu Xavier's compositions are engaging and provocative.

The female form assumes centrality in his paintings with sexuality materialising yet enduring the subliminal. The strong subtext strives for dominance but remains subservient to form.

Every painting possesses a `written' barcode, an element sourced from the prevalent consumer culture. The exhibition of paintings is on till August 29 at Art World, Ganeshpuram Third Street, off Cenotaph Road.

SWAPNA SATHISH

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