Date:19/06/2003 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2003/06/19/stories/2003061900100200.htm
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Romance with art

Prakrit Art Gallery makes a foray into the international scene with a show of the works of contemporary artists of South India in London between June 20 and 23. A preview of some of the works was held in Chennai recently.


PRAKRIT ART Gallery was born short of a year ago at the basement of the residence of Meena Dadha with the aim of showcasing the creations of physically challenged persons. This was perhaps quite natural to have happened, as she has been involved in helping the physically challenged through her organisation `Mukti' since 1986. Slowly `Prakrit' also extended its attention to young promising artists and held quite a few exhibitions in the past many months. Now, Prakrit makes a foray into the international art scene with a show at the Kuhu's Art Gallery, London, of the paintings and sculptures of Contemporary Artists of South India, titled "Romance with Images and Forms" between June 20 and 23.

The selection of artists is not based on any specific theme or style, though there appears to be some common factors like their uninhibited approach to colours, textures and themes, which range from purely abstract to Tantric to mythology to landscapes.

The participants include some artists of the South, who are already known abroad — K. M. Adimoolam, Achuthan Kudallur, C. Dakshinamoorthy, K.V. Haridasan, Alphonso Doss, P. Gopinath, S. Kanniappan, K. Muralidharan, Thotta Tharani, T. Vaikuntam, M. Senathipathi, Laxma Goud, J.M.S. Mani, K. C. Murukeson, R. Sundararaju and Anjani Reddy. The artists have contributed two works each to the exhibition. While most of the works had already been despatched to London, a few were shown at a preview in Chennai recently. Meandering lanes and by-lanes encircle the triangles, circles and other shapes in the lush green abstract of Achuthan Kudallur "Green 2003". On the other hand, warm reds, oranges and earthy browns punctuated by whites and greens applied in broad strokes of the knife enliven the Nature-inspired canvas of Adimoolam. Forms inspired by the elements of Nature interact in the painting of Gopinath, where the human form emerges in a subtle manner.

It is a deceptively casual approach to abstract expression that one sees in the paintings of Thotta Tharani. Haridasan seems to bring out the essence of Kerala in his painting "Sutra", where Tantric worship is a cult expressed in various forms of plastic and performing arts.

The large eyes, sharp nose, full lips and the slightly indicated decorative elements in the works of Alphonso seem to spring from the traditional South Indian sculptures, be it a subject based on Hinduism or Christianity, or on day-to-day life. The landscapes by Dakshinamoorthy and Murukeson are interesting. There is always a childlike candour in the style of Muralidharan to his themes culled from fairy tales and mythology. He uses textures, Tamil alphabets and grids to advantage in his paintings often populated by animals and gods as in "White Elephant". The folk element dominates the paintings of Senathipathi, in which the simple forms of animals like the goat vie for attention with the highly stylised human forms, which often wear an agonised expression.

Another artist who draws inspiration from the folk art form is Sundararaju, whose human forms remind one of leather puppets and wooden dolls through their shapes and colours and express the naiveté of the village folk.

Vaikuntam is known for his depiction of the sturdy men and women of the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh. Laxma Goud has chosen to portray simple rural folk in watercolour, exuding charm and innocence. A similar rural theme is taken up by J.M.S. Mani in oil colours depicting a village market. Anjani Reddy's painting too takes a look at the village women spending their "Leisure" hours playing a traditional game; the female forms appear rather frozen, though she has painted all the details of clothes and flowers.

The two sculptors Dakshinamoorthy and Kannippan have two different styles, materials and techniques. As he himself says, lines, curves and chisel marks lend character to the sculptures of Dakshinamoorthy, who loves to depict people either alone or in group; leaving the stone in its original texture is his speciality.

Thin copper sheets and wires come handy for Kanniappan. The three lines indicating the saree border and the bird sitting on the flowing pallav immediately make one recognise Mother Teresa and her compassion.

Earlier in May, Mrs. Dadha had organised a small show in London, which was a sell-out and has encouraged her to present this exhibition. The 16 artists represent only a small percentage of the talent in the South and hopefully pave the way for a larger show and recognition abroad in the future.

LAKSHMI VENKATRAMAN

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