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Myth revisited

The theme of artist Chandrasekhar's paintings revolves round tradition and mythology



COLOURFUL CANVAS... `Pallandu Pallandu — Real Name Chandrasekar, Nickname Periazhwar', one of the paintings by Chandrashekar

IT'S A different kind of welcome for visitors to the Studio Palazzo art gallery. At an exhibition of paintings by Chandrasekhar, popularly known as Chandru, a large portrait of his parents greets them. That seems to be an indication of the thought process of the artist, who has also penned short stories and poems, besides making documentary films. The apparent meaning of his paintings gets defined once Chandru explains his concepts. He asks, "What is our tradition? Is it an image of Ganesha or Nataraja, or is it the principle and philosophy behind the image? What matters is not the technique, style or medium or the `isms', only the message."

`Maru Pariseelanai — Idellama Pullaiyaru?' (Re-examination — are these Ganeshas?) shows the image of Ganesha placed in a star in six panels; the form emerges step by step. Ganesha has been interpreted by artists the world over in multifarious ways, including Cubism, but the principle has remained unaltered. This is the value of our tradition, declares the artist.

Chandru's fascination for Lord Vishnu and His Avatars, particularly Krishna, comes through in his acrylic works. That he has discussed at length the various aspects of the Lord with many scholars is evident in his interpretations. Even as Krishna plays with the cowherds or kills Kaliya the snake, He sings and dances with the gopis at Brindavan. In another canvas, He tries to make peace between the Pandavas and Kauravas, before allowing them to fight each other. `Pallandu Pallandu — Real Name Chandrasekar, Nickname Periazhwar' is a take-off from the story of Andal and Periazhwar. As Lord Vishnu is married to Andal, her father Periazhwar as the father-in-law has the right to bless the Lord. Similarly, as the creator of the painting, Chandru has the right to bless Him and hence the nickname. This work done in the Nayak mural style, depicts Lord Vishnu as Ananthasayee surrounded by devotees and devas. As for the lizard, it is a small relief sculpture on the painting. It is not just interpretation of traditions or mythology that comes through in his art, but also criticism of some beliefs. In `Gajasamharamoorthy,' the first panel shows a bed facing a half-open door. For the person lying on the bed, the door signifies expectation and excitement about as to who is behind the door or who might enter the room. Chandru says a similar kind of excitement is found in the figure of Siva as Gajasamharamoorthy. He uses the Chola image to depict the emotion — the twisted body with arms stretched out swirling the elephant signifies power, energy and anger all at once as against the figure of Nataraja which is a balanced beauty.

The bull seems to be a favourite subject of Chandru. He says cattle have been part of his life since childhood and he can find a similarity between the animal and human behaviour. `X-ray' has three panels; the top panel depicts a bull as a prehistoric cave painting; the middle panel shows the bull as Nandi Vahana and the bottom one shows the inside of the animal in a colourful and confused manner, painted in contemporary style. In all the three panels, the subject is the same but handled differently. The last figure is also a comment on the present day environmental degradation where cattle are forced to eat plastic bags.

`Udal Mozhi' or `body language' shows beautiful line drawings of human figures. They are like a demonstration of how to draw a human figure revealing what a good teacher this senior artist is. That he is known for strong lines is evident in the acrylic works titled `Chittiramum Kaippazhakkam.' Chandru's works are on show at the Palazzo gallery till July 30, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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