Author Archive: Dr.M.Balamani

About Dr.M.Balamani

I am an Art Historian-Critic & Cultural Analyst, completed Masters degree and awarded Doctorate in the Dept. of Art History & Aesthetics, Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S.University of Baroda. I worked in the same Dept. on UGC-DSA projects and teaching assignment. I write, deliver special lectures and talks, Curate exhibitions, presently making documentary films on art/Craft and artists. I write regular articles for Art Journals, News Paper columns, writing for Sopathi-Sunday Telugu magazine and Navatelangana Telugu news papers on Modern and Contemporary art and artists, Festivals and rituals-record of Social History/meanings and travelogues, short stories in Telugu. For a Corporate company’s Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] activity I Organized Art Camp, Art Residencies, Workshops for Art lovers and Children, Curated group and Solo exhibitions at Hyderabad and Vijayawada, 2015 and 2016. Taught as a visiting faculty in the College of Fine Arts- JNAFA University, Hyderabad, Delivered special lectures at coveted places on countable times. I edited a book in 2010, and contributed articles on “Museums in Gujarat” for Directorate of Gujarat Museums. March 2007 and 2008-One of the members on designing the course at Srikakulam-Andhra University-“Enrichment of Naitalim on Craft education” I Curated many thematic exhibitions on Modern and Contemporary Arts, published around 200 articles, research essays that include International and national publications. I contributed Art reviews in Asian Age papers and conducted [directed and anchored] Artist’s interviews on Gujarat’s local Television channel-JTV, for one year in 2000, made short documentaries on artists.

21st Kalamela-Jaipur

Sri.Vidyasagar Upadhyaya giving a sitting for a clay modelling demonstration

21st Kalamela of Jaipur organized by Lalit Kala Academy in collaboration with Jawahar Kala Kendra of from 3rd to 7th January of 2020. I was to talk and make a presentation on a topic related to Contemporary art. It’s a glad beginning of the new-year for me, with art talk and looking at artists works put up in the stalls by the artists at Kalamela.

I managed to book my tickets and reached Jaipur for the inauguration ceremony to be held on 3rd January evening at 4 o clock. Shilp gram of Jawahar Kala Kendra was bubbling with enthusiastic young and experienced artists having put up their art stalls. The organizers were busy in receiving the celebrities who arrived to inaugurate the event on that day. Formalities completed and lamp was lighted to begin the Kalamela event.

4th of January morning session, Sri.Prayag Shuklaji, a poet and a writer on arts, man of 50 years of experience in the field talked about his journey. Those experiences itself had become a session of writer’s History worth listening. It is also worth listening to his wonderful Hindi language that he speaks. Afternoon was the time for my session. I talked about a phase of 70’s and 80’s in Indian art and screened my films on Padma Shri Jyoti Bhatt and Padma Shri Late Bhupen Khakkar.

I visited all the stalls of artists and tried to understand their work with free of any preoccupation next day. There were around 100 stalls. Artists not only from Rajasthan also from Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat too participated. Many categories and variety of art works were on display. Some of the self taught artists too participated in this Kalamela along with the established and the trained artists of the field. The artists’ profiles and art works were selected under the selection process by a committee formed for the Kalamela event, Shri Vinay Sharma, Scretary lalit Kala Akademi, independently practicing artists Dr.Nathulal Verma, convenor, Harshiv Sharma, Shwet Goel, Gauri Shankar Soni, Lakhan Singh Jat, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr.Rekha Bhatnagar and many.

I noted few things that are worth appreciating on this event. Sri. Prayag Shukla was also made to be seated on the dais of inauguration ceremony. Normally writers on art are never given a special attention on art events barring few well evident names of India. As far as the event of this Kalamela is concerned, this is something similar to the well known art fairs that have become popular for the last decade and half starting right from the Indian Art Summit of Delhi. National art summits and art fairs of such above of international caliber have become unapproachable for a many of young lot of artists even if they have good art work and passion to work. Many artists who studied in vernacular medium and of moderate backgrounds could reach the display stalls of Jaipur and put up their works. Jaipur Kalamela could provide platform for such artists to display their works.

A women’s group motivated by Ms.Sadna Sangar, from Chandigarh could put up their art works display in this Kalamela. Some of the women who left their passion of painting have revived their art of painting and exhibited in that stall. Such activities of Kalamela organized by Lalit Kala Akademi working as parallels automatically bring up the artists of caliber decentralizing the imposed weights of such heavy banners of art summits.

It was a great feeling to observe, senior artists like Vidyasagar Upadhyaya were present and participating in the conversations, attending the talks, my film shows and encouraging the young artists. Vidyasagar Upadhyaya even given a sitting for a clay modelling demonstration by a young artist as part of the program organized by the Kalamela. Is it not a pleasant way of encouraging and supporting the young artists?



Art of Trupti Patel


Earthly Gems

If someone is thinking a step ahead of the surroundings, that person is looked at as an unusual yet another time as an adamant person in the society. When Trupti Patel joined the Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda in 1974, to study the art of Sculpting, it was a period of different understanding about the terracotta clay material. Clay was used as a Maquet material, for making a sample form but not used as art material for making the full round sculpture. Stone, metal kind of conventional materials alone were used as the materials for sculpture making. Trupti had a different understanding about the meanings of clay and it’s earthiness. She wanted to make a full sculptural form with terracotta clay and she was disappointed when teachers did not agree for the same. But she made what she wanted, and received appreciation on final result of her work. She went to Royal College of London to study ceramics specialization on a scholarship for her further studies. She lived there more than a decade and created ceramic sculptures. 2 decades back she is back to Baroda, Gujarat her native place and living in Baroda since then.

Trupti was born in 1957 in East Africa, but her schooling was done in India. Whether she was in boarding school or at grandfather’s place she made friends with local flora, fauna, nature and surroundings. She feels the fruits and flowers and can senses their flavors. The nature on it’s colors and essence is very dear to her. When she returned from London, what made her extremely pleasant are, her childhood associates, fruits and flowers, vegetables and their colors and smells. Every fruit or vegetable has one specific character. There is a relation between their color, taste and their temperament. She created “101 sips” as a project, consisting of 101 ladles, thinking on the similar lines. The fruits, flowers or vegetables are created as vessels having a glaze that corresponds to its charismatic smells and taste. The handle of that vessel represents the character of the corresponding tree/herb/shrub, completing the ladle shape, as a sculptural form. It is a different way of presenting the nature by Trupti, a ceramist and a sculptor.

For Trupti every sculpture is only an end product. Dominating interim is thinking about the life and the surroundings and the interactions, History of the places we live in. She collected clay from the states of tropic of cancer in India and created a sculpture out of that clay, similarly another sculpture is made out of the places of Gujarat and yet another is on its way of creating from all the states of our country. This sort of collected clay what she calls as ‘composite clay’ and she believes every region’ clay is contented with the History of it’s place.

Our society has certain specific rituals and beliefs symbolically wishing each other for good through certain symbolic objects. Door-jamb, or threshold on the doors are one of such objects we added value. That threshold differentiates inside from the outside of the house. We worship that threshold for keeping the evils out and for inviting the good inside the house. Newly wedded young girl crosses that threshold with all the good wishes and the ritual of crossing that threshold alone symbolizes her entry into her in laws house. In these processes this threshold is becoming a symbol of strength. Trupti’ threshold series represent many such ideas of our day to day life. “Looking at her” is her another series tapping the onlooker in a subtle way that when you look a women, understand her in totality, she is a human being having many thoughts and feelings not just an object of beauty.

She does many ecological projects also. Her attachment with the Nature, earth/ clay has resulted into another dimension of activity. She has started farming her land with indigenous seeds, she uses the same at home what she grows in her farming land and supplies those indigenous seeds to the rural farmers. Trupti looks at this project also as her creative and productive work.           


image-detail of ‘101 sips’

[This article is a translation of the article originally published in Sopathi, Sunday Magazine, Navatelangana Telugu News paper on 1st September 2019]

Hemangini Bordoloi

Hemangini Bordoloi’ passion for Arts

At the beginning of the 20th Century also there were restrictions on women’s education, though  Modern society was advocating for the education for every member of the society. Women were expected to have only that much education which can take care of the household and the children’ rearing, also their learning was restricted to the 4 walls of the house. Learning the art of painting was one of those educations, but they were to learn drawing and painting from their brothers, father and husband only. Some of the women artists’ paintings were published in any of the magazines sporadically. Women of those days did not see the world outside their 4 walls of the houses. That was the story in any corner of our country.

Hemangini Bordoloi who belonged to Assam, North East of Indian continent, had a different drive for learning and sharing her arts. She was born in 1925 in Jorhat of Assam. Her father Surendranath Bordoloi was a known artist of those days. She had her early education in Jorhat and Dibrugarh. She was married to Upendranath Bordoloi at the age of 12 and went to live with him at North Guwahati. Fate took her to another turn. She lost her husband in her youth, and the loneliness pulled her towards education once again. She completed her Metric examination. Her family was a family of many artists and writers. Her interest towards arts is obvious and understandable. She wanted to learn visual arts but she could not find any trained artists there. She reached Santiniketan, learnt Art and Sculpture and received her degree and returned to her native place.

She took training under the great artists of Santiniketan and that gave her a wonderful experience in art understanding. That had further boosted her passion for arts.  She wanted to bring awareness in arts of Assam people and that desire had driven her to work further. Right from 1953, she taught arts in Assam’s girl’s high school for 40 years. She established an art institute “Prasikshana Kala Kendra” at Guwahati and educated women and children on art, Culture, tailoring, embroidery, Model making, and beautiful clay pottery making, etc. She invited many senior and technically perfect artists and artisans to teach in that institute. She donated all her property to this institute. Before she passed away, she donated her art works to Guwahati Art Society. That Art Society itself is maintaining the art institute she established. Later they have organized an exhibition of her art works as a tribute to her work and commitment towards arts.

She painted many freedom fighter’ portraits, painted some of the women’ portraits of commoners and  displayed the different expressions of women. Her portrait paintings not only looks with very real like features, she also had the excellent technique, could bring the character of the person very expressively. She also painted compositions on Landscape paintings as well on Radhakrishna themes.

She received many awards, exhibited in Japan and Germany too. Her simplicity, very adorable personality, subtle behavior and her charitable acts on social welfare has influenced many and she remained as a role model for many youngsters of younger generations.     


[This is a translation of my article published in Sopathi, Sunday Magazine, Navatelangana Telugu news paper, on 29th July 2019]

Art of Deepa Gopal

Solitary Muses

If one wants to understand a woman’s mind one should observe what she wants to articulate. If one wants to understand the aspirations of women one has to compile their expressions. Those compilations themselves explain different voices of women. What else could become the special definition for women’s voices? It is true for any woman whether she is an artist, writer or a housewife.

Artists invariably dramatize the subject of their expression to gain the depth of that subject little more or for rendering more expansion. But Deepa Gopal is different from that way of expression. She offers the subjects of her art works not as exotica but for as a reality that we can relate the nearness. She captures the photographs of the places she travelled or the people around and composes painting details depending on those pictures. Some of the examples are-she painted a wooden guest house on a lake waters. We invariably see travelogue pictures are very frequently expressed as exotic places. She paints in such a way a voice is unmistakably saying, that is place of reality. Instead of making the viewer to feel the pleasure of looking at distant greens, viewer gets a feeling that one can reach the greens of that landscape, waters or trees. She assures the viewer that is a reality one can achieve to reach there. There is a beauty in that reality she expresses that attracts the viewer. Another composition is “Island Home” in the back waters, stands all alone. She paints it very convincingly as if that is a reality and we never feel that that is a camouflaged composition. “Lingering memories”, “Paddy Fields”, “Red House” many of her such compositions are like short stories narrated.

She reflects upon and expressed about women’ aspirations and many social issues of unequal position of women in the society. She clicked many photographs of her daughter since her childhood and groomed many expressions depending on her postures. Many thoughts are expressed about girl children and women who are the victims of many atrocities happened in the society. Deepa evolves series of paintings depending on one thought. One of such is on “Repercussions”. One of that series is about a woman walking all alone gazing at the sky while deeply engrossed in thoughts. That lady’s gaiety is straight and determined. Most of the women in her work are deeply engrossed in solitude. Her compositions without mincing the words explain the difference between the loneliness, being aloof and solitude. She is also interested in understanding about the cosmos. Her “Nocturn” series talks about her way of delineating thoughts about the sky. She says she is very much attracted to look at different colours of sky many a time. One of her painting is about the stars studded black and blue sky unveiling between the trees of eternal heights. What continuously repeated in her compositions is, beautiful things are not very far away, we can reach to catch them. Her subjects of painting compositions are on Human beings, their psychologies and nature around us. She works in acrylics, Pastels, Charcoals and mixed media.

She was born in 1976, lives in Kerala. She writes about art, paints and Curates exhibitions. She holds Masters Degree in Literature. Self taught artist. She exhibited in Kerala, Dubai, Abudhabi, Indore, Chandigarh. She Curated exhibitions in Kochi Durbar hall, also as a collateral project at the time of Kochi biennale. She received awards for her blog post Hues.N.Shades.


[This is a translation of the article published in Sopathi Sunday magazine of Navatelangana Telugu news papers on 14th July 2019]

Art of P.Gourishankar

Variation is the secret of P.Gourishankar’ expressions

If we pack a perfumed object in a cloth, that fragrance clings to that cloth. That is what has happened in the case of Pendem Gourishankar. He was born in 1936 in Ghatakesar [Hyderabad] in a family of weavers’ community. But his father never worked in weaving profession. He had a sweet shop to sell sweets. Family profession was left behind. Gourishankar’s sensibilities were attracted by the colours and aesthetics of textile designs and made him to groom into a visual artist. When he was in 3rd or 4th standard in his school, he had drawing and painting subject in the curriculum. If he could not complete his drawing exercises in the class room, he would complete them in the night and submit the work. His drawing teacher encouraged him after seeing his interest to learn more art. It may be because of his disinterest in studies or because of their family financial situation, he had to take a break in 6th and 8th standards. He used to make drawings on the surroundings and people around him in those idle days. He received award for his still life drawing in All India drawing competition when he was in 7th standard.      Gourishankar attended evening drawing classes in Vivekavardhani school taught by Mr.Dongre. He cleared his intermediate examination in Drawing, Diploma in 1961 at J.J.School of Arts Bombay, Advance Diploma at JNTU Fine Arts College in 1962. Later he went to Baroda Fine Arts Faculty to specialize in Graphic Arts in 1963-64, under the guidance of Sri. K.G.Subramanyan, on Andhra Pradesh state Lalit Kala fellowship. He taught in the Fine Arts College, JNTU, Hyderabad for 29 years later.

These details are not to enlist, what he studied and which college he attended. With such information we would come to know what the artist is focusing and what had learnt in the given opportunities. There is a variation and dynamism at every phase of his work. He progressed with lot of experimentation. He varied not only in the medium and techniques there is dynamism in composing the image also. He used to observe and study senior masters art works like N.S.Bendre, K.K.Hebber and European masters’ art works.

Drawing brings a shape to the thoughts to visualize on paper. Artists further compose the expressive form depending on that drawing. But his drawings are nothing less than the forms of expressions. We may find some of his drawings are nude pictures, probably that is to mould the expression more towards the reality. He experimented in Picasso’ Cubism and Expressionism and drew his own compositions. For example, one of his graphic print compositions on “Women Gossiping” is very near to Picasso’ composition. Picasso was expressing to touch the depths of world war trauma and tragedies. Gourishankar brought a similarity in the form but what he expressed is women’s friendly sharing and light moments of conversations. There composed a Lithography print titled “Family”. This is another experiment in combining Cubism and Expressionism. If we look for father, mother and children as it is a composition on family, we will be confused. But there is a man and a woman figures in cubes and rectangles and the attachments amongst the family is expressed as an abstract form. The composition “3 Riders” also belong to the same category. Woodcut compositions on “Banaras Ghat”, “Baroda Nyayamandir” make us to understand his love for the textures in the compositions. He learnt Impasto technique in Baroda and he could walk further for his love for textures in this technique. Some of his compositions “Nature & Evolution”, “Silence World”, “Snow and Vegetation on Mountains” have spiritual and other worldly thoughts expressed.

When artists experiment with the conscious thoughts on the fore, that pulls subconscious thoughts also along with them, in the process of combining both there may occur some accidental forms. Gourishankar looks at art or life in 3 stages-dark, medium and light colours, and childhood, youth and old age. It is difficult to bring many colours in printmaking methods. He can bring colours in Graphic prints process as per his expressions. He worked in painting, printmaking and drawing mediums. He received national and international awards, exhibited internationally. He was recognized as a Professor of Emirates. At present he is working only in painting medium because of his ill health. He lives in Hyderabad.


[This is a translation of the original Telugu article published in Sopathi, Navatelangana, Telugu newspaper, on 30th June 2019.]        

Art of Bairu Raghuram

Black and white images-Colours of Life

Black and white pencil drawings are no less meaningful than painting images. Bairu Raghuram’s drawings make us to realize the same. His black and white etching prints are also equally beautiful. It is difficult to decide whether his drawings or black and white and sepia tone prints, which ones are more beautiful. He lives in Hyderabad, born in 1949, a conversation with him-

Your art works obviously informs the viewer that you are working on Telangana rural life.

I was born and brought up and has been living in Hyderabad. I know only this life style.

Life style of Hyderabad is a metro life. It is not the life what you depict.

Life of Hyderabad and surroundings were different in my childhood. It was more of a rural life. I was also travelling to Warangal, Siddipet, Karimnagar for sketching. Poverty had a similar way of life in all these places, faded walls, chipped of lime plasters. I did few thousands of sketches in those days. Those memories do visit my canvases even today.

People represented in your images are in poverty but not desperate, sharing conversations, calm and quiet, spending time with animals also. All the images have one common feature that every figure has very pale and big eyes.

Picture looks beautiful and innocent with big and pale eyes. At the same time if artist wants to say about their innocence and ignorance, one has to choose some features like conversing with cattle, sheep and cocks.  Picture should look good for me as well as for the viewers.

Your drawings look very real like images.

When I was studying in Gulbarga for Diploma our principal Mr.Andani encouraged us very much, made us to learn, hands, feet and figure drawings from medical anatomy book. I practiced regularly even after the studies. When I wanted to exhibit my art works in Maxmuller Bhavan of Hyderabad, I was asked to bring a recommendation letter from a well known and senior artist and kept me out. I decided to become a good artist on my own and practiced a lot. I started observing many masters works. I was inspired by the works of Albert Durer, print maker and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Was it difficult for you to become a part of the Hyderabad art scenario to begin with?

It is very difficult to stand as an artist independently here. It is always observed, which artist belongs to which senior artists’ group? After experiencing all these issues, I wanted to travel on my own path. Mr. Chandrasekhar, a senior artist was working in Lalitkala Akademy in Hyderabad. He liked my print images and encouraged me a lot. He gave me a chance in all India print making workshops and art camps.

When did you start working in printmaking medium?

I studied graduation in Nizam’s college. I did not know much about Fine Arts courses. I was very happy when teachers used to appreciate me in my school days for my drawings and paintings. I received a second prize in inter school drawing competition when I was in 9th standard. I was more than happy to receive my prize from the hands of District collector. My parents were unhappy because I was not good at studies. Later I completed my lower and higher examinations in Drawing and studied diploma in Gulbarga Fine Arts School.

I started working in censes department as an artist. I have been practicing my art independent of my job. Lalitkala academy started Graphic studios in 1982 in Hyderabad. I became a member in those studios. I had a difficulty to begin with but later not only practiced the technique, I realized printmaking suits my way of expression.

Do you find any difference in drawing and making print images? Both of your images look similar.

It is difficult to bring so many sensitive lines in print making as it is in drawing. Print making process is elaborate. But whether it is print or drawing, I keep space in my focus, what element and figure should be in the front, back or at the side. I take all the care to think and compose.

Congratulations for all your efforts.

I wanted to gain name by doing my work sincerely. I thought my work is the answer for everyone. I was invited for a residency at Japan and participated in a group show also there in 2017, similarly participated in a group show at London in 2015, as well in America and Bangladesh. I participated in Bhopal Biennale in 1995. Lalitkala Akademy published a book on print making since 1850 in India. My work is part of that book. I received a national award in 1997 and a gold medal of Hyderabad Art society in 96. I was awarded ‘Kalaratna’ a ‘Pratibha Puraskkaram’ of Telugu University.

My grandfather worked in Nizam’s Police department. My father worked as a molder in Railways. I used to feel happy seeing him molding 3 dimensional and fine moulds. I am very happy standing as an artist on this same land of Hyderabad. 

Bairu Raghuram was interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani.

[This article in Telugu is published in ‘Sopathi, Navatelangana’ on 23rd June 2019.]

Art of D.Anantiah

———-Birds and Animals are Conversing with Us——-

D.Anantiah used to think art is for writing sign boards, at the time when he developed interest in drawing and painting. Later he learnt about the world of art that is different from the sign boards. He explored further for learning that art. He achieved to the level of exhibiting his art at national and international exhibitions. He is a painter and a print maker, lives in Hyderabad. A conversation with him-

How do you view yourself, as a painter or a printmaker?

I do work on both the mediums, painting as well as on printmaking. But I like to work more on Zinc plate etching and printing images.

Your etching prints are very beautiful. They look like miniature paintings.

These are not miniature style paintings. I incorporate more details on the small sized Zinc plates. In the process I have to draw small drawings and fine lines for the totality of an image. Due to my financial condition I preferred to take small plates, so that I can work on more number of plates.  

Your landscape images look as if you are composing from a top angle.

Yes. It is true. My childhood was spent in Vikarabad. I used to go for trekking frequently on Anantagiri hills along with my friends. I used to sketch images sitting on those hills. If you observe carefully you will not find lower half of the trees in my drawings. I draw that view what I get while climbing up and down the hills. Those are top view drawings.

Do you still copy images from those earlier days sketch books for the compositions?

Not really. Most of the images are from my memories of those days. I always enjoyed making drawings. I used to draw on the village walls also. Our town used to have Sunday Bazaar. I remember people moving around in the market. Most of the human figures and details what I draw today are from those memories. I like to draw birds and animals more. I feel the composition is complete when I add the birds and animals to the paintings composed on human figures also.

What is the conversation between a bird and a goat in this composition?

I used to take cows and buffaloes for grazing in the open fields. Shepherds were also coming there. We were all spending time together, eating tamarind or berry fruits from those lands. We were addressing each other as cousins and relatives. We never find the class and caste discrimination. Animals and birds also coexist in the nature. Birds sit on the animals and they walk together. There is no discrimination in their habitat. I composed this composition of bird and animal conversation, with that same understanding. Birds keep conversing with women in my other compositions. I feel birds are saying ‘women do not have as much freedom as they have. They cannot fly out like them.’

Most of your compositions have moss green colours or a bit of yellow is mixed in that. Is that to represent those colours of moss grown hills?  

No idea. May be moss colours of those trekking days must have been settled in my mind. I use mostly 3 colours, yellow, red and blue. I use only 3 rollers for spreading colour in print making, soft, hard and medium.

What did you learn first, panting or print making?

I used to think sign boards’ writing is art. My father used to work as one of the Gang-men who filled the gaps on the roads. We had a little agricultural land but we were relying on his earnings only. He had a dream that his children should get the education and become a supervisor like his boss. That was the intense Telangana agitation time in 1969. Colleges and schools were closed. I used to participate in the agitation, and practiced drawing and painting in the leisure times. In a way that agitation directed my way towards art. I used to draw the portraits of martyrs of agitation. I used to draw cinema posters.

I completed Intermediate College and went to Hyderabad for further studies thinking I can write posters and earn money simultaneously. I joined B.Sc in a science college. My college was right opposite to JNTU Fine Arts College. I used to observe students were going to the college carrying art materials.

As I wanted to learn writing banners, I went to a big company in the old city. But I could not focus to sit with them to write sign boards. I used to go and visit art exhibitions in JNTU Fine Arts College. I chanced upon to meet Dongre sir there. I learnt more information about art conversing with him. I went to learn drawing and painting with him at Vivekavardhani College in the evenings. I studied for Diploma and got the certificate from Gulbarga College of Fine Arts. Lailtkala Akademy started print making studio in Hyderabad in 1982. I joined those studios and started working on print making. I started “Forest series” of landscapes in those early days of 82. Later studios are shifted to Telugu University, I am still a member there working with print making studios.

Your art works are very pleasant images. They are like stories narrated.

I try to portray conversations between animals, birds, human beings and nature. I enjoy doing art whatever I like. I do not think about whether this composition is saleable or commercially viable.

Were you employed anywhere?

I worked as a primary school head master, taught arts and science in a govt. school. I have been working only on my art for the last 5,6 years after retirement.   

[D.Anantiah was interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani. This interview article was originally published in Telugu in Sopathi Sunday Magazine, Navatelangana news papers on 3rd June 2019]

“Performance” Art by Dimple Shah

“Performances” Another dimension of Visual Arts

Visual arts are a mute language, also no movement available in this language. That had become a restricted dimension for the visual artists to express. They experimented for a newer way and imagined, if the painting acts and acquires a movement, how does that work? They transformed themselves to become the painting image and started expressing the way they want meaningfully. This is a step forward in the field of painting in 21st century. This is popularly known in the name of ‘performance’. Dimple Shah lives in Bangalore, comes to the platform of arts every time with a new thought. A conversation with her-

You always have new performances to add. How does one learn this performance art? Is it another section in visual arts?

This is not a separate division. It is one of the experiments put forward by visual artists.

Which section of art you studied? Why did you switched on to performances?

I studied B.Com earlier. Mr. Girish Karnad like stalwarts took workshops for us in the college. I developed a taste in theatre at that time. I worked almost for 5 to 6 years in the theatre arts, both, on the platform, off the platform. I used to make drawings also. One of my friends saw my drawings and advised me to study in Fine Arts. I applied and studied painting Diploma in Ken School of Arts Bangalore in 1998, and did my Post Diploma in Print making in Baroda Fine Arts in 2001. I had the experience of working in theatre and that probably initiated me to think about performances along with my visual art studies.

Do you work painting, print making and performances as separate sections and independent of each other?

No. Performances are taken by artists as a medium to convey social messages. Once I made a performance in Zurich. I based it on our Indian women who make living out of rolling papads. This activity helps women in economic empowerment. I made papad in front of the audience, printed designs over those papad with print making blocks and made images over them. This includes the statements on women’s empowerment and small scale industry, printing designs is incorporating print making methods in the performance.

It is very nice. Did you make any more performances on women’s empowerment?

I always work on new themes. When I performed in Nigeria I included their head dress in my performance. Every society has it’s own and different life styles. I also work on many other themes not only related to women’s themes. Once I went to a coal depot, looking at black coal, many curious thoughts came to my mind. Everything was black, I felt Black could be the end point on every issue. Same coal cured under the earth layers for thousands of years, that would become a diamond. Those thoughts prompted me to think different. Everyone has to look into the self for introspection. Once I gave a performance with black in total costume thinking about these thoughts.

What is this photograph, looks like electric lights are put in your hair?

Once our group of friends thought of looking into the changes set in Bangalore city.  I designed my performance on jasmine flowers of our childhood. We used to have Jasmine flowers fully adorned on hair plaited in our childhood. Scented jasmine flowers were beautifully looked everywhere at that time. Now the IT industry has kept the city busy for all the 24 hours. LED lights are lighting the city throughout the night. I wanted to say beautiful past of Jasmine scent is evaporated in LED lights and I performed having arranged electric bulbs in my hair plaited.

Could you convey that message to audience?

People do not know much about performance art. People only know theatre performance on the stage. This performance is part of the audience. When I perform I keep meeting people and talk to them. When I performed with Jasmine hair plaited I moved around 45mts on busy M.G.Road and was talking to people asking about the changes in Bangalore. They do not understand to begin with. I explained them.

Your paintings have an element of theatre dais?

Painting, print making, and performance everything comes together into my art expression.

Did you find any difference in the performances of India and abroad?

I learnt a lot performing outside India. In Bangalore also lot of experimental work is going on now. I can make lot of experimentation in Bangalore itself and I am enjoying that.

Which one you like the most, Print making or performance?

I like both. I am not going to leave any one out of it.

Interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani.

[Original interview article of this translation was published in Telugu in Sopathi Sunday magazine of Navatelangana news papers on 19th May, 2019]   


‘Ajay Sharma’ art works

Artists create visual statements in that way they understand the world around. Contemporary artists believe in expressing a meaningful art than beautiful art and in a direct way. Every artist finds one’s own way of expression. Ajay Sharma expresses through the examples about his personal life but the explanations travel beyond the objective world. Ajay Sharma lives in Baroda-a conversation with him.

All your paintings look like oil paintings. You paint in oil most I think.

No. The paintings what you see are all done in water colors. They are opaque.

I must say you have very good drawing skills. Paintings look real. All the works are meaningful.

You are seeing my studio is filled with works. I keep working. [smiles–]as much one practices so much technique becomes handy for the artists.

Why did you paint peacock feathers for a crow?

People in the towns feel great to display their money and status. People forget their roots, attachments and relations back home after reaching the cities. They start showing different colours. Just got a cranky idea—if crow forgets its existence and starts sporting peacock’s feathers…how does it look?

This painting was done when I was thinking about the food chain of this nature. [He pointed at another painting] Caterpillar and butterfly rotate the cycle of their life. Caterpillar is eerie looking, butterfly has beautiful looks. Similarly the food we consume and the crops we grow, there is a cycle connecting in between, …goes on in this nature. This life is a mixture of many such good and bad relations.

Is this a collage work, there are many leaves and flowers pictures on the sides, is she your mother in the middle picture?

Yes. This is ‘Props for a family Drama”. I combined many of our family incidents and painted as a drama scene. There are many incidents of life, we cannot share with others. Even if we share we cannot make them understand certain things. When my daughter was sitting in my mother’s lap I was very happy to see both of them. I clicked a photograph and wanted to make a painting out of it. But when I started making a painting many other incidents started coming to my mind. That was the time we had many issues in our family. One important issue was health of my parents. I felt a similarity between leaves and plants eaten by moths and the ageing human bodies. I painted such eaten leaves and flowers to symbolize the ageing lives. The shawl my mother was covering had a different design. I made the design of my mother’ shawl of those flowers what the Vangogh’s painting had. I also showed moths crawling on the carpet where her chair is. Insects catch the carpet and furniture and eat them like sickness of the body without our notice.

What is the painting technique of this family drama composition?

I made it in cyanotype method. Negative of the photograph is taken out in the dark room, we put the required objects over the negative and expose the film in Sun. As per the light exposure, colors change on the film. Then I did some more experiments. I dipped them in tea water. That turned brown and earthy tones bringing the feeling of dry leaves.

You portrayed Vincent Vangogh in this painting, why, because he is a great artist?

He is a great artist. He expressed himself very sensitively. When he was in a mental asylum he painted certain wonderful paintings. As a metaphor I redrew his portrait and added his starry night and Iris flowers paintings in my compositions.

My father was working in IIT Kharagpur. After retirement he could not sit idle. He had taken up another job at Jamshedpur. He was travelling alone there. Slowly he dropped into depression. I could not see that agony when I went home. I imagined what could have been the status of that great artist Vangogh when he was dropped into depression.

Did you enjoy painting right from your childhood? Are there any incidents that you fondly remember?

I started painting right from the age of 5 or 6. My family encouraged that as a hobby but did not approve the idea of joining the fine arts curriculum, asked me to go for engineering. I never understood mathematics and science subjects. I practiced painting with one art teacher. He studied in Calcutta art college and I too wanted to go there. But I studied in Baroda, BFA in 1995 and MFA in 1997 in print making. I did 3 solo exhibitions, more than 25 group exhibitions, exhibited in Singapore. I stayed in London for 6 months, in 2004, exhibited prints and paintings in central London. Those experiences taught me a lot.    

Interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani

[Original article of this English translation is published in Sopathi, Sunday Magazine, Navatelangana Telugu News papers, on 5th May 2019.]

Raghav Kaneria says-“Art is part of Life”

Drawing by Raghav Kaneria

After joining the High School and when he was learning drawing in art classes, Raghav Kaneria thought his mother does not know anything about art. She was making drawings for her embroidery work. When he joined Baroda Fine Arts Faculty and later studied Masters Program in Royal College of London, he realized art comes from life and how the Folk arts are part of day to day life. A conversation with him-

Where do you hale from?

My native place is Anida village in Saurashtra of Gujarat state.

Your childhood, and education…

I was born in 1936. Ruler of our state H.H.Bhagavat Singh went to London and was educated there. He understood the importance of education and constructed school buildings in 175 villages of his state Gondal. He made a policy of compulsory education for children. Boys should be educated upto 4th standard and 2nd standard for girls was the compulsion. If someone wants to study further school offered education upto 7th Standard. He made many reforms for his state. He installed entrance gates for the villages. Earlier no one knew their date of birth. He made a village office, after the birth of every child one had to register in that office register. Once the child is 7 years old, child should be sent to the school.

How did the children enjoy going to school?

Children felt they were put in a prison. They were enjoying roaming around and playing in the fields. Who would like sit in the school? I too did not like that routine. It was difficult to bunk the school also. Other children were sent to their houses to deposit those absentees in the school. Language spoken at the house is different from the language written in the books. It was difficult to follow. Teacher used to give us some work and he would doze off for sleep. If we play around and make noise he used to shout at us for disturbing his sleep. Nothing greatly we learnt in our village school. I completed till 7th class.

Who were influential for your education further?

We were 5 brothers and 1 sister. My father was a farmer, had an agricultural land. He decided to give education to 2 of his boys otherwise it would be difficult for all the children to depend on his small land in future. I am one of those 2 and I was admitted in 8th standard in Gondal high school and was put in to our community hostel there.

How was the education system there?

I did not like the education anywhere. English language as a subject was introduced in 8th standard at that time. My English was week. When I was in my village school I used to make drawings on slate sitting in the school leisure hours. My mother used to make drawings not only for her embroidery work, other women of the village also were getting the drawings done by her, because only few women could drew well and they were drawing for others also. I observed her drawings and used to do them again on my slate. I used to observe animals, birds and fields. I made big size drawings of elephants on our village walls with charcoal. After joining high school at Gondal, I stopped my drawing activity thinking our teachers may scold me for the same. But my hostel warden realized my interest in drawing, sent me to drawing classes and made me to appear for art and drawing examinations also. I got prize money of Rs.10/- in my intermediate drawing examination. I bought a colour box and brush and used to draw with those colors.

My warden encouraged me to join J.J.School of Art Bombay. That was a known art school in those days. But we could not afford to go to Bombay. I joined Baroda because this place is near to our placed. After joining Baroda Fine Arts Faculty in 1955 my life and art changed.

I think you must have adjusted well in Baroda that being an art college.

As I was week in English I had to opt for Diploma course but not for the degree. I did not understand the curriculum and study hours to begin with. But I made friendship with my super senior Jyoti Bhatt, that gave me direction, who is a well known artist now. He is from our region.

I got a first class in first year. But when I went home in vacation, my father told me to stop the education in search of a job, thinking I studied too long and we cannot afford further. I felt floor under my feet started quaking. I already started enjoying my art education. It was more than difficult for me to discontinue my education at that stage. I could come back to college with the help of my friends. I received scholarships and practiced art further, studied Masters Program in Royal College of Art London.

There is lot of variation in your art, there is a variation in the materials also you use.

I do whatever I like and I enjoy doing that. I did lot of metal casting and various forms when I had good studio facility in London. Sometimes one has to adjust with the studios availability and facility. I make drawings also yet another time.

I think you express one single thought in various forms.

Yes. I experiment my thoughts in various forms and materials. I observed in my childhood, inert seeds are sowed in the soil and water it, life throngs out form that lifeless seed. I amazed observing its growth and worked on this germination and saplings in various forms and its different stages. I molded the galloping energies of Cow and calf in various postures. When I received the scholarships like National scholarship I had the opportunity to explore further. When I was teaching in Sculpture Dept. Baroda Fine Arts faculty, I followed different materials and methods to demonstrate students. I followed my own methods of carving and sculpting. I was retired form Faculty in 1996. Since then I started making drawings most. My childhood drawings, what my mother made for ‘Ganesh Sthapana’ rituals had inspired me. We have many arts in our society, they are part of our lives. They have emerged from our living systems. British had come to rule us and washed out our understanding about art and said ours is not art. I hope one day, we will once again reach the stage to understand and practice ‘art as part of our life.’

Raghav Kaneria is interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani

 [Original article of this interview is published in ‘Sopathi’ Sunday magazine Navatelangana news papers on 28th April 2019]