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Blossoms of art

Anju's paintings depict an artist's reaction to contemporary issues


ANJU RAJAGOPAL has never been to an exhibition of paintings or for that matter any art exhibition at all. The only works of art that she is familiar with are the ones in the collection of her teachers, Kerala Varma and Krishna Kumar, at the Sthapathi Chitra Vidya Peedom at Vaikkom, her hometown. So, putting up an exhibition of her works was a daunting task. An opportunity to exhibit her works came quite unexpectedly and so there were no preparation for it other than printing a brochure that introduces the artist.

Inner feelings

Anju's works reflect more of her inner feelings, her reaction to contemporary issues that plague society and her own state of mind.

The artist, who has been using watercolours and pencil for a long time, also uses Indian ink and crayons. One `Ganapathy' has been done on paper using a mix of media. Her earliest memories of getting into the art of paintings are very vague and she feels that she must have depicted nature and other immediate subjects.

Anju had to face opposition from her father and other relatives who were against a girl in their family pursuing what is still considered an "unorthodox" career. "I had participated in painting competitions while I was in school." And after completing her Secondary School Leaving Certificate examination she was keen to study painting. With only her elder sister and mother supporting her she had to wait for long before her father gave permission. Thus, she started learning painting at the Sthapathi Chitra Vidya Peedom just two years ago. And her works in Indian ink and a few of the water colours draw inspiration from some of the murals and works that she saw in the collection at the institute or at some temples. "Hunting of Sastha' was inspired by the murals that the artist saw at Pundirikapuram temple.

Switching to oil

"I now want to do more works in oil," said Anju, who started working in the media only recently. "Oil gives more flexibility. I can paint over what I had already done. That freedom is limited in watercolour or even pencil. And I can be more creative in that medium,"said Anju.

Anju says she reads books that are spiritually oriented and some of them have inspired her in painting and drawing pictures of gods. One of the paintings of Ganapathy is an experiment in various media such as watercolour and charcoal.

The only appreciation that had come her way all these years was a present from a friend on seeing her painting of `Saraswathy,' which was inspired by a mural. "In fact, `Ganapathy,' `Saraswathy,' `Nomad' and `Alienation' are my favourites," Anju said. `Nomad', which is one of the best in the collection, is a study in pencil of a photograph of a little boy.

`Matrimonial Life' and `Life After Sexual Harassment' are Anju's reaction to realities of contemporary life. `Natality Birth,' which shows a child in a cradle, depicts her thoughts on abortion, and abandoned children, a reaction to issues that are in news today.

Scenes of animals being carted for slaughter in pitiable conditions in lorries forced her to paint `An Elegy Against the Cruelty Towards Animals.' This depicts a collage of picture of animals in a stream of blood.

"`Alienation' is what I feel at times, the situation I am in. It shows how alienated I feel in my surroundings." Artist B.D. Dathan, who inaugurated the exhibition, appreciated `The Elegance And the Horror of Night', and advised Anju to concentrate more on such themes as he felt this was her future.

`Charm' depicts thecharm of a woman and of nature and the universe. These are works of passion as depicted in `Flowering Out.' and as the exhibition is titled. Anju's painting exhibition is on at Gorkhy Bhavan till December 27.

BIMAL SIVAJI

Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

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