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Celebrating womanhood

K. Ravi's works, which are colourful, warm and forthrightly humorous, are a tribute to the Indian woman


DAKSHINACHITRA IS playing host to the Vishakapatnam-based artist K. Ravi. The gallery recreates a rural ambience within the silence of its architectural spaces, with white washed brick walls and sloping tiled roof. Ravi's works, which are colourful, spontaneously warm, forthrightly humorous and resourcefully intertwined with symbolic metaphors, enhance the viewing experience. His works are a paean to the Indian woman.

With a rural sensibility (he was born in Mudigonda village in Andhra Pradesh), Ravi's early years were spent romping the countryside and internalising its verdant greenscapes. This sensibility is evident in his works on paper with ink and mixed media. Ravi, who has chosen the Indian woman as his theme, says, "I think the woman is a beautiful form in Nature. I would like my work to have a distinguishable, Indian identity."

The thread of commonality running through the entire series is his dominant line and wonderful sense of colour juxtaposition. The source of line, colour and pattern were gleaned out from Madhubani paintings, which he came across in Shantiniketan while pursuing his MFA degree. If Madhubani forms the scaffolding for his creation, we find his teacher's influence predominant. Jogen Choudhary's malleable and flexible form strikingly has affected the artist's sensibility.

Combining the various influences, his modern approach is at the fore in the personalised way he has deployed the kitschy adornments of the women as the hair clips, earrings or the bindis.The faces of his muse have large eyes, petulant lips made up of triangles, luscious curves and loose or plaited hair adorned with flowers. The hair is represented in a conventional manner with consistent wavy lines. She presents a naiveté appearance innocently beholding the spectator. The pupils of the eyes are subtly worked in values of the same hue in concentric circles.

Metaphorical

The charm and ethnicity are further complemented by metaphorical reference to woman's fecundity. In one painting, a young girl is wearing a skirt held by a cord, which finally emerges at the naval to continue within it. The skirt has a representation of buds implicating symbolically her role of a procreator. For Ravi, this theme apparently is a momentary phase of intense preoccupation, and will soon be replaced by another subject or theme. The restless, nervous energies of the artist are channalised through his constant exploration and experimentation of techniques and themes; and the process eventually will generate new imagery.

Ravi's greatest strength is his empirical approach, given to gleanings of his subject from memory. With easy facility in handling lines and colours, these elements are in a state of perpetual flux. This particularly becomes evident in his compositional formats. For instance, the background of one painting has a border framed with his drawings, which he has Xeroxed and tinted it either in red or blue and superimposed with the portrait of a young girl. This creates a wonderful effect leaving the viewer puzzled whether it is a graphic print, an inked drawing or a computer graphic. His titles too are personalised such as "Kamini" and "Anusha."

The show is on at the DakshinaChitra Art Gallery, Muttukadu, till January 30.

ASHRAFI S. BHAGAT

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