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On the rocks

Lata Marur believes that her sketches translate the stories that rocks tell



BLACK OR WHITE Lata sketches the multitude of rocks that dot this part of the plateau Photo: K. Gajendran

Lata Marur has the heart of a painter, the eye of a geologist and a compelling sense of times gone by. A city-based amateur artist, Lata these past six years has in shades of black and white brought the realm of the Deccan to her artistic journey. Following a rare calling, one she says she first heard when she was eleven, Lata sketches the multitude of rocks and rocky landscapes that simply dot this part of the plateau.

"I was hooked when as child we went house hunting in Banjara Hills. I sketched still life regularly but I finally found my passion when I started sketching rocks," says Lata.

At her recent exhibition, her seventh solo at the Welcom Art Gallery, ITC Hotel Kakatiya Sheraton and Towers, Lata had taken her art into the next dimension. "Titled Rock-a-doodle-do, it's a wake up call for all rock enthusiasts to conserve these beautiful sentinels of nature. Rock art is a very effective way of getting people to love rocks," she says. A self-taught artist she keeps the use of the modern technique to a minimum. "I sometimes feel inadequate that I do not have a background in fine arts but I do my best." And her best is good enough.

One look at her masterpieces and you could well be a convert. For her latest exhibition, Lata has used charcoal on canvas and integrated her subtle hand embossing techniques and framing to give her pictures amazing depth. Her strokes have retained the charming simplicity of these pieces of the earth often with little clumps of grass. What stays with you is a certain timeless quality in Lata's sketches. The sketches are striking for their sheer depiction. The balance of one, the elegance of another and the shapes - rotund, elongated or pointed. "I travel to where the rocks are and rock walks have been eye openers. I mark out the rocks for what strikes me most about them. I used to spot sketch but now I use black and white film to capture their light and shade. I'm lucky I live in Hyderabad. There are so many rocks that I have never repeated any. They are so much a part of me now."

Embedded in her mind's eye Lata's sketches are throwbacks to a fast vanishing world.

DEEPA ALEXANDER

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