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Telling tapestries

Animals seem to be the favourite subject of artist Rajen's tapestries



Rajen ... touch of intrigue

AS YOU enter Artworld what you see on the opposite wall looks like a large black drawing on a plain background. As you go closer you realise it is a tapestry, woven from a drawing. An alumnus of Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, Rajen is skilled in line drawing and painting. But he seems to weave tapestries with equal ease and has been adapting a lot of his drawings and paintings for the purpose. The elephant is a major theme in his works. The pachyderm is portrayed in a playful mood either alone or in a herd. One of them shows an elephant seated on a chair and dressed formally. Ganesha is also a theme Rajen seems fond of. A large `woven drawing' of Ganesha was inspired by a singer on the street, according to the artist. As he quickly sketched the man, he decided to draw the head of the Lord, instead of a human face.

Rajen's love for animals is also evident in a couple of tapestries. In one, young Krishna is surrounded by cows and, in another, by cattle and goats. Though they are tapestries, the delighted expression of the animals as they listen to the music from the flute of the divine child comes through as effectively as it would in a painting. One work showing a flock of birds has been executed with expertise. A couple of tapestries portraying Dwarka Krishna are also appealing.

Some of them have formal floral patterns adapted from Mughal decorations. Rajen's interest in Vedic verses as also the `Aum' is evident in some of the creations where he uses calligraphy. For a long time Rajen wove the tapestries himself but of late someone else has been doing it as he has developed some health problems.

A set of drawings and watercolour paintings are also on view. Rajen handles the colours freely, often allowing them to run, to create unexpected but attractive abstract effects. And in these he sketches elephants or erotic forms inspired by the Khajuraho sculptures, the lines drawn with a sense of abandon. One of the tapestries with the words "What is here is everywhere; what is not here is nowhere" seems to intrigue visitors.

The exhibition is on till August 12.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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