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Impressive imagery

Victor Selvaraj's paintings are inspired by the Krishna legend


VICTOR SELVARAJ has made Lucknow his home ever since a research grant took him to the Lalit Kala Akademi in that city 15 years ago. A former student of the College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, Selvaraj, a freelance artist, has held several exhibitions of his works. Some of his recent paintings are on show at the Lakshana Art Gallery till March 12, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Though a Christian by faith, most of his themes are inspired by the Krishna legend and are titled "Krishna Natak." Even the bridegroom in `Marriage' is Krishna. There are paintings of Krishna lifting the Mantara mountain, dancing with the gopis and Kaliyanardanam.

This interest, according to Selvaraj, was kindled when he illustrated a book on Krishna by a German scholar.

The figure of Krishna is surrounded by small panels depicting scenes from the legend. The figures are purely line drawings done with a thin brush or pen, white on a dark background.

They appear simple, but would be possible only for someone with mastery over the technique. Selvaraj uses diagonal lines here and there, simulating a stairway, an arched entrance and grill work. Within the space created by geometric forms he adds other colours in wavy lines or uses symbols like swastika or snake. Contrasting colours make the line drawings stand out.

In the larger works, there is a fine vertical line starting from the base and going right up. Though after the start it is invisible, its presence can still be felt. This, Selvaraj claims, is the link between the human and the divine.

`Mother and Child' shows the mother cradling her baby, reminding one of a contemporary work by master sculptor (late) Dhanapal. `Last Supper' depicts the Holy Trinity of Christianity, while `Heritage of U.P.' is composed of folk deities, dances and other ideas typical of the region, with the emblem of the State in the middle.

There are quite a few paintings of `warrior' in small format, showing a horse rearing up with a warrior seated on it. The subject has been used in the larger works too, where instead of Krishna we find the warrior occupying centre stage.

The highly stylised human and animal forms are reminiscent of a few other artists of Chennai. Nevertheless, the sense of animation, particularly in the horse, makes the works lively. Because of the multiple colours and the criss-cross patterns created by the lines, the paintings appear decorative and cheerful.

While black, red and green as surface colours make the imagery attractive, the use of light violet in some of the works could perhaps have been avoided.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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