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Images in ink

Stylised figures of birds and animals are the main feature of artist V. K. Sathyendran's works


THOUGH V. K. Sathyendran's favourite medium is oil, in the last couple of years, he has done several ink drawings, some of which are on show at La Galerie d'Expression, Hotel Ambassador Pallava. The drawings reveal his fondness for animals and birds as elements of a composition. He stylises them in his own way and many of them, particularly the bull (the Brahma bull, for example), and the human forms remind one of prehistoric cave drawings. The figures are placed any which way, without attention to perspective, size or location. But this gives a sense of continuity. The vertical ones give the impression of being part of a scroll, like patachitras. Often the forms get mixed and end up in mythical figures such as a human body with the head of a bird placed in a human situation. These are products of fantasy, says Sathyendran, an alumnus of the College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai.

A favourite subject is the tree trunk. The gnarled form at first glance is a tree trunk; but look at it for a while and it slowly metamorphoses into a muscular human body. "The tree trunk reminds me of a powerful male body," says the artist. The fine lines bring out the texture of the bark effectively. The stones on the ground often remind one of a human body bent down in different ways. These drawings are rather surrealistic.

Some of his recent drawings are of village belles their wide eyes filled with wonder, wearing typical jewellery, with tattoos on their faces. These are simple but attractive.


One particular work has 117 human faces arranged in rows. What is noteworthy is that each one is a different caricature, the variety quite astounding, revealing Sathyendran's keen sense of observation.

Having been exposed to the Tantric works of senior artists, Sathyendran has read several books on the subject and come up with drawings on Kundalini, which quite simply are abstract drawings based on the snake. One of his abstract works is composed of geometric forms, with the exclamation mark forming a major element. Not surprising, someone called it "Bewilderment"! Even numbers become the main theme in a couple of drawings. Lines of writing effectively fill the surrounding areas in some works, accentuating the main theme.

Despite a break from palette and easel for a few years due to illness, Sathyendran's skills have not suffered. The progress he has made in a matter of five years is commendable. Being alone for most part of the day, he seems to breathe, eat and sleep art all the time.

The exhibition is on till June 15, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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