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Discovering new colours

Santhosh Asramam's works revive an unusual method of painting



Meditation 1

A PACKET of special charcoal colours gifted to the artist when he was young has finally been utilised in his works. It meant years of experimenting with a new way of expressing one's innermost feelings on paper. That he had to fashion even the brush out of bamboo before he could wield it speaks about the determination of the artist to master a method of painting that is non-existent.

Santhosh Asramam's 'Meditation,' a series of 11 paintings, explores a novel medium imbibed from Buddhism. This series, inspired by Tantra, transcends the mere geometric designs to touch another plane. One can even sense eroticism in at least one of the paintings depicting Nataraja dancing in all his glory. In `Meditation 4' the male and female figures are seen dissolving into each other. All the symbols of eroticism are evident in this particular painting.

Non-existent

Done on a special, rough paper, these paintings reflect a very ancient method now non-existent, says the painter. The paint is rubbed into the paper one after the other to obtain the desired colour.

The charcoal is not mixed outside, as one would while using watercolour or any other medium. Each painting means hours spend rubbing each colour on to the paper one after the other. "This trail and error method meant discarding many of the earlier works, when the colour desired was not forthcoming after the rubbing in of the various mixes of the powder."



Meditation 4

Santhosh began the series in 1994 when this non-existent method of painting used by Buddhist monks was in a way resurrected by him. The 34-year-old painter has to fashion the brush out of bamboo to `paint' this on the special paper.

"I got this charcoal colours when I was very young. Slowly, I discovered how to paint in this media," said Santhosh. His painting titled `Mediation1' won the State Award of the Lalitakala Akademi in 1994. The eroticism in this painting is very subtle and not over powering as it is not a very dominant factor. Some of the geometrical forms can be understood only in terms of our social contexts and mythologies.

Evolution

Santhosh says that he has evolved as a painter in his `Meditation series.' And he hopes to widen his horizons as he explores more of his roots, that is Kerala.

The exhibition, held at the Alliance Francaise of Trivandrum last week, was inaugurated by JeanLuc Lavaud, Delegue General (Delegate General) of all Alliance Francaises in India.

BIMAL SIVAJI

Photo: S. Mahinsha

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