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Of architectural spaces and dreams

The sufferings of women find a place of prominence in the works of P. Manickavachagam.


A ROOMFUL of women looks at you from various angles, as if saying their plight remains the same despite the general advancement in society.

Their moods are many. If one is caught looking pensive, the other is getting ready to don some of her many roles - that of a daughter, wife, mother and sister. You can see the outline of their faces, but the expression is hazy. Since the eyes have not been defined, their posture tells all the stories.


Artist P. Manickavachagam captures all this and more in his 10-day solo show, on at the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Trust Cultural Centre till August 31.

If the first hall is filled with women, the second has more to do with dreams. "After college, I took up surrealism. I read a lot about dreams and wanted to record something that every human being goes through," he says.


The result is a series of abstracts on canvas. Dance also fascinates the painter, who teaches fine arts at the Department of Architecture, National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirapalli.

"I wanted to relate the rhythm of dance to visual vibration and see if it could be translated. It was possible," he says happily.


The works exhibited here have been done in past decade or so. Some pieces date back to his college days. The canvas with the old brick building at the Madras College of Art as subject, been with the artist for long. "I have to see it every day and so it hangs in my living room," he states.

As for the angst experienced while selling paintings, he says that the pleasure given by a painting will always stay in the

artist's mind and that art has to be shared.

That Manickavachagam has evolved as an artist is evident when you look at the exhibits.


While his initial work comprises portraits and surreal paintings, the recent ones are more mature and the strokes bolder. "I have grown as an artist. Initially, I used bright shades. Then, I wanted to experiment with colours and brush strokes. So, I broke them into pixels of colour. Being a teacher of architecture, I am concerned about spaces on the canvas."

Maybe why, the spaces are all filled with geometric patterned broken brush strokes. The artist says that is his signature.

The paintings have also been priced very reasonably. That, says the artist, is because he wants his art to reach the

masses. "I dream of a day when my work adorns every home," he avers.

Abstract art is like the alapana (elaboration) of a musician, he feels. "Like he plays with the ragas, we do with colour. However, since this is an entirely visual medium, unless a viewer opens his eyes and mind, there will be a gap between him and the painter."

The artist prefers working on oil paints. "Besides being easy and interesting, one can bring out pleasurable colours on oil," he opines.

SUBHA J RAO

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