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Lines of introspection

The works of five young artists from Karnataka displayed conflicting emotions and helplessness about happenings around them


PAINTINGS BY five young artists from Tumkur, Karnataka — Naganna, Manjunath, Sathish Multhalli, Siddesh Bandimane and Ananthapadmanabha Shastry — were recently on display at the Lakshana Art Gallery. The works evoked a sense of unease despite the use of bright colours. The youngsters seemed uncertain and confused. This was evident even in the titles. The show itself was called `Art Hunger — Expressions of Impressions;' but the impressions appeared to be of the artists' inner selves, their conflicting emotions and helplessness about happenings around them. But in terms of technique and execution, they revealed talent. They seemed to draw their inspiration from local traditions.

Naganna's paintings of a man contemplating the flowers and petals reflected his sombre mood. There were suggestions of architecture in the background indicating that he might have been distanced from everything. In all the works, the man had a red nose! Bright red was the dominant colour of his paintings, though there were other hues like blue and yellow.

Siddesh's male figures looked scary with their glassy eyes staring directly at the viewer. They were also rather skeletal.

`Jeans' (should it be `Genes'?) showed two similar looking emaciated faces suggesting a genetic relationship between the two. `Suffering' depicted beggars one sees outside temples sometimes, with bright vermillion `pottu,' holy ash smeared on their forehead and a begging bowl in their hands, their faces not revealing any suffering. On the other hand, the man sitting hugging his knees in `Greeting' looked like he was in trouble, even though there was a lamp burning brightly at his feet.

Animal and human sacrifice seemed to have left an impression on Shastry. In `Bali 5,' a realistically painted face of a buffalo, surrounded by kolam-like designs, with its expressive eye, evoked pity. In `Bali 6' only the foot of a human was seen, perhaps a woman's, going by what looked like the lower part of a red sari. Though Manjunath's paintings were titled `In the Bloom,' there was not a single flower or any other form of life. Test tubes and wine glassed in different shapes caught one's attention. He used sober colours, except for a dash of bright tints around the glass. Sea and ship dominated Sathish's works titled `With Nature.' But what was striking was a form that resembled a fish with the head cut off and the top opening like a funnel. A confrontation between ship and the `fish' was the theme central to this series. Intriguing indeed.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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