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Intimate approach to ART

Raghava K.K's paintings have an enigmatic aura about them


"I AM glad that I haven't been formally trained in art school in India and had my creativity wrung out of me." Raghava K.K, a Bangalore-born and Boston-based artist truly reflects his mindset in this statement.

The large paintings measuring approximately 5'X 8', which form the major part of his oeuvre besides smaller works, are created with `natural' tools and not the `conventional' ones. These so-called `natural' tools are his fingers, hands and feet.

Raghava, in his painting methods, recalls Jackson Pollock, the American abstract expressionist of the 1940s. And in Raghava we have the redefinition of Pollock, whose gestural method employed his whole body to interact with the canvas laid on the floor and not propped on the easel. This method negates the hegemonic approach to painting a canvas placed on the easel and provides for an intimate approach to creating. Raghava's paintings can be categorised as organic. And by organic it is meant that the paintings visually challenge to be contained within the frame and create an illusion of spilling out to have a continuum with the referential space outside. His method initially comprises laying the canvas or paper (both these materials are imported since he lays stress on their durability) flat on the floor and soaking it with water (he works only with watercolours) to the saturation that he requires. On his palm, he squeezes out 15 tubes of colours and begins his painting. Within an hour the canvas is ready. But before he attacks the canvas/paper, he has the whole composition visualised. Then it is simply a process of translating that vision on to the surface of his support.

Looking at Raghava's works, a question that crops up is when confronted by such a large surface how does he organise his thought process. To this, Raghava says he applies patches of paint all over and this gives him the lead to establish his visual elements. The colours and textures have always challenged him and these two visual properties are explored and exploited efficiently by the artist. And with this visual tactile quality Raghava strikes a posture of difference juxtaposed with his working method, essentially to posit his rebellion within an art world, which is conditioned largely by ideologies and concepts.

An enigmatic aura resides within his works; a quality that is consciously inhered so as to be evocative and mysterious. It is not the stark and straightforward figure that is presented to the viewer, rather the forms emerge gradually and present themselves.

The centrality of his themes are thus human forms either the faces or the representation of the whole body. And his titles are equally suggestive growing out of his forms and techniques like "Old Man Paris II", "Netrawati Falls" or "Larghello".

For his young age of 23, there are no boundaries, only fluidity reflected in his life on the move, capturing images from reality to serve as a vast repertoire from which he draws at will.

Raghava's works have a liberating effect on the viewer, as he leads them into his paintings through blotches, drips, footmarks, sandal sole prints, handprints and the amoebic configurations of dried paint on the surface. It is visually titillating and this dimension of sensuality hallmarks his works.

The show is on at Ashvita Art Gallery till January 16, 2004.

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT

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