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Shakuntala revisited

Sadanandan narrates the classic tale in traditional Kerala mural-style paintings



The graceful images present a variety of views.

KALIDASA'S ABHIJNANA Shakuntala has inspired many an artist to interpret the legend. In his recently concluded exhibition, Sadanandan chose to delineate scenes from the fable in the traditional form of Kerala murals.

As one watched the works at Rightlines art gallery, it was evident that the artist is not only skilled in his vocation, but also has a fine imagination.

Technical finesse

The 30-odd paintings were technically firm. The graceful images presented a variety of views, beginning from the point when Vishwamitra, in deep penance, is charmed by Menaka.

The following pictures took the viewer through subsequent situations in the fable.

Some of the sequences made interesting viewing. Hunting Sport, showing Dushyanta chasing a young antelope, captured the drama effectively. The ornate chariot, pulled by galloping horses, stretched across the canvas and the surrounding environment of the forest was deftly delineated. Apsara Sanumati, hiding among the bushes in the garden to observe sights of Dushyanta's palace, A Moment of Helplessness, when Shakuntala faces rejection by Dushyanta, Mother and Child, showing her with her baby boy, Mareecha's Prophecy, where he predicts that Shakuntala's son would one day rule the world and, Reunion, celebrating the reunion of the king and Shakuntala, were some instances where the artist seemed to have put in his heart and soul into the paintings.

While many of the paintings effectively conveyed the moods and emotions of various sequences, the artist seemed to get overwhelmed at times with the decorative possibilities. Some of the paintings as in Love at First Sight, showing the lovers falling in love, Apsara traversing through space, and Propitiation, where an attendant in Dushyanta's palace plucks flowers from a mango tree, were blatantly decorative and the syrupy feel was extended beyond a point.

Beyond myths

It would be interesting to watch Sadanandan's future efforts, where one hopes he would come out of the self-imposed constraints of delineating mythical characters and situations.

ATHREYA

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