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Dots draw attention

Poornima Vaidyanathan has recreated musical personalities and instruments through an interesting medium of art



A photographic narrative: A portrait of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

THE GALLERY space is filled with portraits of doyens from the field of music, both Carnatic and Hindustani. And it is here one needs to pause. Not to ponder over their personality but to appreciate young Poornima Vaidyanathan's medium, technique and the tool through which she has created a photographic narrative of them. Interestingly, the theme of the exhibition is holistic, since it also includes musical instruments.

Poornima is herself a trained singer and musician enabling for her an easy translation of the abstraction of music through the technique of stippling or creating imagery through a series of dots.

This method is popular particularly with American illustrators; but does not find much acceptance with Indian artists since technology has allowed an easy manipulation of it. "But nothing can replace the human touch," says the artist. Worked over a period of two years, from photographs carefully sourced, she recreated through her art the images of the maestros she wanted.Stippling as a technique is exhaustively demanding, mandating a careful study of light and dark areas to enhance the dramatic character of the medium.

There is consistency in the way the dots are placed either densely to create darkness or spread out for a lighter effect. Her outstanding works are of the singers Brinda, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.D. Ramnathan and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

Musical instruments

In addition to portraits, she has also rendered compositions comprising musical instruments as varied as harp, veena, banjo, ghatam, tabla, kettledrums and congo. The ghatam and tabla, sitar and flute are replete with the tension of the musician as he manipulates and mediates through the instrument to strike the right note or beat at the right time.

The character of the instruments is enhanced by the rich play of chiaroscuro and capitalising on the white of the paper she has created a mystical effect.

This Bangalore-based artist has been trained at Chitra Kala Parishath, Bangalore, where she obtained her B.FA and M.FA in painting. Poornima's maiden solo show, well timed for the music festival, is on at Vinyasa Art Gallery, TTK Road, till December 10.

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT

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