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Romancing the rustic

The artist's works are vignettes on rural life


YASALA BALAIAH'S paintings reflect the life and nuances of a seeker. And it's surprising that he sees much of his world from his small studio in Siddipet. In an age of instant gratification and mindless marketing the unassuming retired teacher dabbles in painting equipped only with an innate ability to grasp, assimilate and apply.

Eighteen works from Balaiah's collection of paintings titled `Rustics of Telangana' (priced between Rs. 2000-Rs.15,000) were on display recently at the Art Gallery, Hotel ITC Kakatiya Sheraton and Towers. Worked on for the past two years the paintings were presented through various media - acrylic on canvas, paper and wood laminate on handmade paper with a couple of funky batik ideas thrown in. In a series that talks through primary colours with blue, green and orange dominant it's the women who prevail in the frames. Leading the pack are three women in various avatars - as brides, mothers, labourers and musicians. But it's the woman with a lyrical blue face adorned with engraved jewels, which is the pick of the lot.

Rendered in a horizontal format are paintings of shepherds and farmers in forest lands separated from the ordinary and the animals around them by a profusion of colours that create a solemn mood with a band of razor thin lines floating across the canvas like a meandering stream. Awakened by the artist are a mother and child, trees and creepers in a mottled spectre and brides in profile even as five other men make music in the vicinity of an engulfing darkness. Balaiah also represents the pastoral by small but interesting etchings of jewellery on wood laminate paintings. The batiks are filled with prancing unicorns and the Shirdi Sai Baba.

Says Balaiah, "It's all from imagination. Not based on live art." Which is surprising as the brightly attired, dark complexioned women in regular activity are reminiscent of rural life that is as close as possible to reality. The artist never fails to mesmerise and in his superb work his lines crisscross with exceptional energy and power.

His works are available at Plot No. 11, Site III, Padmavathi Nagar, Borabanda, Hyderabad (Ph.040-23835182).

DEEPA ALEXANDER

Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

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