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Lines in tune and step

In an exhibition of pencil sketches, Raghav Raj Bhatt perceives Ganesha as Master of all Arts



Raghav Raj Bhatt first painted a Ganesha in a Kathakali posture eight years ago — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

THE SEASON of Ganesha may be coming to an end - but the artists' fascination for the elephant-headed god continues. Dancer-artist Raghav Raj Bhatt (disciple of Birju Maharaj) sketches the god in his myriad forms in resplendent traditional fashion. In that sense, he chooses the oft-trodden path. The artist envisages the god as Sakalakalavallabhan (master of all the arts). This musical-dance journey of the lord, which comes alive in 21 sketches (well-framed), also points to the artist's reverence. The whole room at Shilparamam where the sketches are displayed is turned into a sacred space. Visitors are requested to leave their footwear behind. The sound of the tambura reverberates through the room. And the artist is only exhibiting his works for viewing - they are not for sale. From an artist known for his minimalist lines (particularly on dance), Bhatt has delved into the intricacy of depiction. The detailing is so elaborate - it looks as if the artist has paid attention to each and every aspect closely. Bhatt has indeed put his heart and soul in the drawings.

The postures of Ganesha are well studied and brought out. The vibrancy pulsates through the lines. From the dhyana (concentration) to the postures in classical dance like Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri and Kathakali to the god in tune with traditional instruments like veena, nadaswaram, trumpet, nagada (war drum), flute and been, each portrayal is different and engrossing. The nature of expression too changes with the mood and rasa. Every piece of ornament - right from the jewellery to the mukut (crown) and the dhotis is taken care of in great detail. The depictions of Ganesha are almost in the same form as representations of other gods - quite lyrical. For instance, Swaravachaspati (where the god plays the veena) is given the Saraswati effect. Hari Swara is Krishna like replete even with the peacock feather and flute. The posture too is like Krishna standing and playing the flute.

These 21 works have been done over a period of eight years. "I first painted a Ganesha in a Kathakali posture eight years ago as I felt that he had been shown in Bharatanatyam. For about four years I did some sketches and then took a break for a few years before resuming again," says Raghav Raj Bhatt, who wants to take this exhibition to other metros.

The exhibition is on at Shilparamam till tomorrow.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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