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.

Remembering Sri.Haku Shah

Remembering Sri. Haku Shah

Sri. Haku Shah passed away on 21st March 2019 at Ahmadabad with a cardiac arrest. He was born on 26th March 1934 near Surat, Gujarat, studied in Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda, right from BFA & MFA [1952-59] under the tutelage of Late. K.G.Subramanyan. Mr. Shah and Sri.K.G. had a special relation. They were from the fraternity of Gandhian philosophy. K.G. was the teacher who encouraged his students to work and revive and rethink about traditional arts and crafts. Whether that too added to his ideology or his thoughts were too travelled on the same roots is not the question to ponder at this juncture, Mr. Shah continued to work with increased passion in traditional, folk and tribal arts. He not only worked like a researcher, he wrote about them, he collected the artifacts and created a permanent village museum, Shilpa Gram at Udaipur in 1989.

He taught in Gandhi Ashram Ahmadabad and met a tribe Rani Paraj and realized the magical quality of their works. That was the day his passion took another turn to understand, collect and curate the folk and tribal arts as a cultural anthropologist. Once he created wall paintings in the style of folk arts and travelled many villages carrying messages through those wall paintings about the social exploitation. He believed and said Modern arts and Folk/Tribal arts should get the equal regard and acknowledgement.

Right from his childhood he enjoyed and developed a passion for painting, poetry, music and theater and enjoyed the relation between these arts. As he believed in Gandhian philosophy he lived in a Khadi costume simple life. Gujarat Vidyapeeth of Ahmedabad was established as an alternative education away from British education. He created a museum of traditional and tribal arts there as part of that integral education system. He loved the simplicity and the directness of expression in Tribal and Folk arts. His work too influenced by this style. A blue boy with a stick on his shoulder is seen in most of his paintings. It is difficult too to say whether he is a Blue god Krishna, Fulani of West Africa, Masai of Kenya, shepherd of Persia, Afghanistan. He had seen a universal faith and similarities in human thoughts and believes. He found no boundaries amongst many faiths. He stood as one of the landmarks of Modern Art in India. He was a man of few words and always his hands were on work.

He was regarded by Govt. of India with Padmasree in 1989, received Rockfeller fellowship and Gagan Avani Puraskar, Nehru Fellowships and many more helped and supported his continued work in Folk/Tribal arts. His journey to abode certainly made a void in the field of art who found no boundaries between art forms.

Dr.M.Balamani

30th March 2019

Print Making-A surprise Game for Kavita Shah

Print making-A surprise game

Kavita Shah was awarded a prize in drawing competition when she was in her 2nd standard. It was announced in the school assembly by her class teacher and she felt “Oh! I am a big artist” and she grew along with that thought. When the time has come to join the college she had to make a choice between home science, economics and fine arts. She talked about her journey in this interview with me-

You like the fine arts more, is that the reason for coming into this field?

Not exactly, I was not practicing any great drawing continuously. I enjoyed Economics subject very much. I liked Home science also. But my mother said, “to look after the house and cooking I can teach you. You wanted to become an artist throughout.  Join the Fine Arts, why home science”. And we have been living in Baroda. To get a seat in Baroda fine arts was any way a happy thing to happen.

Have you enjoyed after joining the Fine Arts course?

I joined B.A painting. I did not understanding anything to begin with. Other students around me were practicing painting before joining this course itself. We were told in the class that, regularly found painting subjects as lady with water pot kind of popular art, is not an intelligent art and was rejected in Baroda Fine arts. We had a teacher, Ms.Nasreen Mohemmedi. She taught us how to enjoy any subject, object how to observe for its colors, lines and enjoy and in similar sensitive way how to transform that into drawing and painting. She put us to practice art that way. Meanwhile I made friends with other classmates. Then I started enjoying the course.

You are known for your print making art….

After completing B.A in painting I joined for Print making specialization in 1983. Not many girls were taking this subject in those days. Rolling the press, working with Litho stone was very laborious. I was the only one in my class. Once I understood and got into the practice of working with these techniques, I started enjoying in this medium more.

I understand you practiced print making in the studios outside the country also?

Yes. I visited and worked in many foreign countries as well in India on invitations and fellowships. There are some problems in printmaking methods. This medium is not much known like painting and sculpture where the facilities can be made individually. Printing press is expensive. There are international print makers associations. I become a member in those. I felt like opening a similar platform for print makers in Baroda. I started Chhaap studios in 1997. It started with an idea of offering studio to those who wanted to work in print making medium. We did many workshops also through Chhaap. We started exchange programs and residencies later. Artists from other countries come and work in our studio. If they are aware of any new techniques, they offer to teach those in workshops for the art community here

Can you share some notes your art works?

There are as many challenges and surprises in print making medium. It is a long process, starting from drawing to transferring that to the plate, and taking the print. There can be unforeseen changes. Once the process begins, I get involved completely. Because of so many surprises in between, this process looks like a game. In a way I can say I like that surprise element.

Print making process involves toxic materials like acids also. Nowadays new techniques and methods have come in the field. Now I am conducting workshops to work with nontoxic materials and to avoid toxic materials.

I think many artists have left print making field because of the difficulties involved in this field.

Art market does not encourage prints. Art collectors do not want to collect prints. I conducted an exhibition “Foot Prints” a decade back. I collected the prints of women artists working internationally and exhibited them. Participating artists were right from my teachers to my generation artists. I asked everyone the same questions, what are the problems they are facing working in this medium.

There are many design patterns seen in your work.

When I was working in Bhopal printmaking studio, we worked with tribal artists for a workshop. They work with designs and motifs most of the time. I was very inspired looking at their work. There is a design and pattern in our lives also. There is a pattern in every one’s style of working, thinking. I started working with patterns because of all such thoughts.

Tell me few works of yours that you liked the most.

My work starts from one thought and enters into another thought, there is continuity invariably. Once I worked with a theme on ‘box’. I have shown 3 stages of boxes. 1st is empty as we come to the earth empty handed, 2nd stage, there are objects in it, there are beautiful objects like flowers also in the box, as we collect and accumulate in life, 3rd stage is empty again. This theme indicates not only life, boxes also give a hint about capitalism and consumer market. Another theme I worked and exhibited is ‘King & I’.

What are your further programs on Chhaap?

Every activity is clubbed with funds. I have to first think about funds for planning any program.

You are taking Chhaap also to the distances along with your art, successfully handling both. Congratulations Kavita.

[Original article of this interview is published in ‘Sopathi’, Sunday magazine, Navatelangana, Telugu news paper on 10th of March 2019]

Kavita Shah interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani

Chinthala Jagadish

Experiences Moulded-Chinthala Jagadish

“ Life is also like a Marathon. If someone gets a first prize for their run, it does not mean others have to leave the race in between. If we continue to work hard, we too will reach the goal one day. One need not feel intimidated if reaches later”, Says international fame artist Chinthala Jagadish who lives in Hyderabad. He was born in old city of Hyderabad in 1956, did his schooling in Kalvakurthy because of his father’s employment there. He started painting when he held the slate and chalk in his childhood. He creates art works with a difference, colourful, taking the inspiration and ideas reflecting from his life and surroundings.

My conversation with him-

When did you get the idea of studying in Fine arts?

I was not able to score more than passing marks when I was in school right from the beginning. My Science teacher Mr.Ramakrishna Reddy, after looking into my science drawings advised me to join Fine Arts and he explained in detail how to reach JNTU college of Fine Arts in Hyderabad. I went to see that college once. I saw the students sitting in a row and making drawings and paintings. I was very impressed. I decided that day that if I study I am going to study there alone.

How did you get the marks in JNTU Fine Arts College?

I got first class and stood 2nd in my class in 1st year. I did not believe when my friend informed me. Everyone encouraged me that I should achieve 1st rank in my next examination.

What was the financial situation of your parents? Expenses of your college study….

If I want to study my family is such that they even mortgage their ear rings. When I was in 3rd year I took my drawings to a calendar shop in Hyderabad to inquire if they can print my drawings for their calendars. Shop owner explained me that they are printed in Sivakashi of Tamilnadu and also explained me what kind of drawings are preferred for calendars. I travelled to Sivakashi taking my drawings. I met a senior lady in the train. She fed me tamarind rice and cared for me like her own grandson. I never forget her affection.

I moved around many printing shops there. Finally one printing press owner accepted my drawings and offered me Rs.500/-. I was so excited. I gave that money to my mother as it is my first earning. She gave me back later. That printing press wrote a letter again to me asking for more drawings. That was the beginning of my earning.

Have you seen your calendars printed?

Who were taking so much care to send the calendars in those days? They would forget after printing. But my friend saw the calendars printed with my drawings in Adilabad and he informed me.

Your Paper Masche masks are different and very attractive.

Hyderabad Doordarshan Kendra asked me to make masks for their children’s program in those days. Today if I need a gold colour I can get one made in Geramny and sold in America. But I used to search for cheaper materials in those days. Then I made many glove puppets with Paper Masche. Now I gained so much experience in paper I can work anything different in the paper as no other artist can imagine.       

Is there any difference in your work from the days of your graduation and in today’s work?

A lot…When I came out of graduate college in 1978 from JNTU Hyderabad I was doing lot of realistic paintings. There was a change in my work when I passed my post Diploma from Baroda Fine Arts College in 1980 itself. Today I gained experience and that further refined my work. I can say there is lot of difference in my work from that day to today.

Any specific memories of studying at Baroda Fine Arts College….

Many…K.G.Subhramanyan, an eminent artist was a teacher there. He conducted my interview for the admission there. I did not know anything about him by that time. He said” You, Hyderabad people do not have any understanding about art. Your teachers asks you to do copy work and do not teach you good art. You have good skill. I will not give you regular admission. You can come here simply as a non Collegiate to learn.” I was angry listening to him. I refused and about to leave. He called me back and gave me admission in Printmaking Dept. Teacher over there asked me to do only sketches and drawings nothing else for a month. After seeing those drawings K.G.Subhramanyan gave me admission in Mural Dept. I always had the courage to openly express if I do not approve anything. I told him when he was still pulling my leg “ I saw your M.A students work. I do not find them any great.”

When I was leaving after my studies there I told him openly “ You have not taught me anything different about art for the last 2 years.” Next day he called me and explained me many things about traditional, Modern arts, techniques and materials and concepts. He advised me to explore my roots and make that as my way for the art. That has driven me a new fruitful way.

Colours in your work are very impressive.

My experiences reflect in my art works. When I was a child I used to play in my mother’s lap, I saw my mother’s bangles were falling zigzag. My mother used to wear turmeric and KumKum on her forehead. All those memories come to fall a composition in my work.

Your works are with national and international collectors. Which collector had given you more encouragement?

When I was working in America on a fellowship my work was displayed in Chicago art expo. One art dealer had seen my work and included my sculpture in his gallery exhibition. He gave me a studio also to work there in 1991. He gave me support to begin with. When his gallery was on a run out my works were supporting him and he told me that once jokingly. 

Dr.M.Balamani

[This is a translation of my original article published in Sopathi Sunday magazine, Navatelangana Telugu Magazine on 27th January 2019]

Experiences as Expressions

yTechniques of Printmaking in visual arts is laborious also time consuming. Even then artists enjoy this process of making prints. Theyhave to think and rethink their thoughts and imagine a mirror image to  make a drawing on the zinc plate for etching,wood block for woodcut prints, limestone for litho prints, linoleum sheet forlinocut prints, etc. They cut those drawing lines as sharp or deep cuts withsharp tools, fill the colour and take a print of that on paper. Result is thepositive side of the image. Some of the artists have made this strenuous methodto express aesthetically meaningful art works. One of them is Ms.Padma Reddy.

Padma lives in Hyderabad teaches art for school children, helps her father who is a founder of a Sanskriti school in teaching art to the lower social social status children. She says children have mirror like clear minds and it is fun to work with them. She fulfills her multi tasks teaching, making art as art practitioner, as a wife, mother, daughter and family relations. We experience lot of things in life, good and bad, sour and sweet, some we can express out some may not. She says we can express hidden feelings through visual language of art. Padma retrospect and introspects every feeling before expressing as visuals. Print making process has become the right method for Padma to rethink before making a print and during the process. Thoughts are rethought for a mirror image in printmaking process and this is similar to introspection of the thoughts. This is the pleasure artists on print making.

Her father Sri.B.A.Reddy is an art teacher in the same school where she studied. She had been looking at father’s art at home and school and developed taste in arts and literature, visited art exhibitions, looked at various art methods, took inspiration from meeting various people and tried to understand various mind sets. She enjoys experimenting with the given process of printmaking for different ways and many results. She does not want to adhere to the given conventional processes.

She studied bachelors Degree in Hyderabad JNTU Fine Arts college and Masters in printmaking from Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda. She runs in between her art practice, responsibilities of family and household. She says there is a gender difference everywhere whether it is a private space or public space.

[Original article of this translation is published in Telugu in Sopathi Sunday magazine on 9th December 2018]

Dr.M.Balamani    

“White on White”

“White on White”-

paintings by Sajidbin Amar

“Why do we have to see the painting for concepts and meanings alone? We click photographs of our daily life incidents whichever we enjoy. Why cannot we paint in the similar simple manner and enjoy looking at the incidents through images?” Says Sajidbin Amar. He lives in Hyderabad studied Diploma in painting from JNTU Hyderabad, then Masters degree from Central University Hyderabad. Viewer certainly feels that there is a style of his teacher Laxma Gaud in his art work but he evolved his own language. Though he says do not search for the meanings in paintings but his works are very meaningful. He exhibited nationally and internationally, teaching Printmaking as a visiting faculty to many students. My conversation with him—-

Balamani- You paint because you studied in Fine Arts College!

Sajid-I like painting and had the introduction to painting that is why I studied in Fine Arts college.

BM-When did you start painting?

S-My father used to work as a sign board painter in old city of Hyderabad. He used to paint pictures also at home. I took interest looking at him. I was copying the paintings. I had a chance to meet Sri.Laxma Goud known artist of Hyderabad. I was inspired by his meticulous drawings.

BM-Was there any change in your drawing after meeting him?

S-Yes. Lot of change.  He explained me that I should look into the surroundings and draw and paint about them. His advice works even today for me. I paint the surroundings as I understand them. I joined Masters in Painting on his advice. He was my teacher too at Central University Hyderabad.

BM_ What is a painting on surroundings for you?

S-We come across many incidents and happenings in daily life. We do not search for the meanings while enjoy on day to day life. We experience as it comes. For me painting is also like enjoying the context instantly. For ex, a couple goes to restaurant to dine happily on their wedding anniversary. Newly married couple stands with garlands. There are many things happen around me in the surroundings. I paint all those situations as they happen. I feel they are very natural if I paint that way.

BM-Most of your images are composed in divisions, as if boxes are set on canvases.

S-Television has influenced me. When we watch any movie on TV there are advertisements in between and there is no relation between the movie or serial and the advertisements. Afterwards everything keeps moving in our minds as patches. I draw the images similar way. I combine many incidents of our daily life, taking one image to represent one incident. I drew one canvas in an art camp. I was supposed to draw a composition on Hyderabad. I have taken Minars for symbolizing Charminar in the middle. This city has many religions and cultures living together. Horse may be a cultural symbol for one and for another a Kamadhenu. At the same time Auto rickshaw and 4 wheeler vegetable and fruit trolleys are necessary for everyone. I drew all those images then alone image of Hyderabad is complete for me.

BM-Colours of your canvasses are very soft and sensuous.

S-I used to work in black and white most of the time. I had done a series of paintings on “Unseen forefathers” in black and white. We pray our unknown forefathers at burial grounds. I connect the past not seen today in that imagination.

BM-When did you start working in colour?

S- I am a print maker, had a difficulty working in colours to begin with. Till 96-97 I worked in black and white. More TV channels were established in Hyderabad at that time. Big banners and hoardings about the programs were around. That looked as if they wrapped new things in colourful and beautiful gift packs and bags and offered us. That is one of the reasons of bags and boxes appear in my compositions. My paintings are the combinations of many such aspects. I do not plan and search for meanings to paint. When we want to enjoy singing we enjoy bathroom singing also. Why not to enjoy the incidents painting on canvasses as if we are photocopying the subject and enjoy?

BM-Do you weave the different incidents as a story on the canvas?

S-No. It is like this. There are many shops in a shopping mall. Everything together becomes a Mall but every shop is independent. I bring together many subjects to make one composition.

BM-What are the mediums and materials you work most?

S-Drawings, paintings, Zinc plate etching, woodcut, terracotta, etc. like that. Now I am working on white on white prints working on woodcut print making. This is printmaking method only but I did some experimental work and there is a difference in this result. It does not look like print, looks like painting.

BM-These white on white prints are very sensuous. Thank you for the details.

[This is a broad translation of my interview article published in Sopathi, Sunday magazine of Navatelangana Telugu News papers on 2nd December 2018]

Dr.M.Balamani

Awaken and Asleep

Awaken and Asleep

Creating work of Art is like giving birth to a child, as Kavita Nayar explains. Kavita was born in Amritsar in 1957, her schooling was in Kolkatta, Bachelors of Arts from Santiniketan, Masters in Painting from Delhi and to acquire proficiency in Printmaking she went to France in 85-86, to Luxemburg in 1990 and on Charles Wallace fellowship went to Oxford Ruskin school of Arts.

Kavita attended a painting competition when she was in 8th standard. That was the time Neel Armstrong stepped on moon. To celebrate the occasion participants of painting competition were supposed to imagine the space and draw and paint. Whoever wins the competition will get a chance to visit Russia for 13 days. She was upset that she could not win. That instigated her to take Fine arts specialization against the advice of parents and teachers. To express positive and negative feelings through art had been initiated on that day itself for Kavita. She says she should be called an artist not a print maker though she achieved fine tuning in printmaking. That is true, whether one is a singer, dancer, painter, whom so ever one may be everyone is an artist. She goes to her studio every day, works every day. Making a figure is like writing daily dairy for her. Her art works are her dairy written with figures and forms. Image is like being awaken in the sleep or living in the dream for her.

Many a people groom their thoughts when they are in the lone spaces. Artists represent their thoughts through the creative arts. When Kavita looks at her painting she does not feel that is the representation of her thoughts. She feels those figures are continuity of she herself but that is like a chain connecting her with her image. She was painting from 2006 to 2008 and only portraits of her daughter whom she lost. She finds solace in nature and thinking through nature and within the nature she forgets the sorrow of life.

Kavita is the important support and founder member of Kalasakshi trust. She does much for art through this platform to award fellowships to young artists and giving opportunities to them on various levels. She says society has given her so much and she should give back to the society. She teaches as a visiting faculty in Delhi and many national and international art institutions, conducted workshops to teach and popularize printmaking and exhibited nationally and internationally. Many of her works are in important Museums, one of her work is in Indian Prime Minister’s house. She believes in spiritualism read more about Budhhism. She lives in Delhi.

Dr.M.Balamani

[This is a broad translation of my original article published in Telugu in Sopathi Sunday magazine Navatelangana news paper publishes from Hyderabad on 18th November 2018.]

Thorns and Roses-Surekha Kumar’ Installation

Thorns and Roses

Surekha Kumar’Installation

Important facet of artists’ creativity is to express their feelings and emotions in the art forms after imagining new thoughts. One of the developments in contemporary art field is working towards that artistic expression that reaches the audiences in totality. Painting and sculpture of conventional forms of visual arts’ is a silent expression. Sometimes that becomes lesser mould for the length of the expression needed to hold the sensitivities of artists’ imaginations and deeper meanings. To create the new means is the focus of artists of this century finding new methods to express the optimum. Visual artists began to find more methods than two dimensional languages of painting and sculpture. Surekha Kumar searches for meaningful methods.

Surekha lives and works in Banglore. She completed her graduation at Ken school of Arts, Banglore in 1985 to 90 and Masters Degree from Santiniketan in 90 to 92. She exhibited nationally and internationally also had remarkable fellowships to her achievements. She practiced beyond two dimensional language of painting. She is one of those important artists to be counted in Video installations, performances and photography and combinations. Whenever it is necessary to enhance the meanings she herself becomes part of the installations. She works on the themes of ecology, feminism, gender politics, etc. subjects dear to her heart.

We human beings encounter many interactions, sometimes appreciations yet another times rejections and refusals. Whatever may be the situation, one needs to control their body for outward behaviors and expressions. We have to instantly wear masks to hide our feelings and present civilized. There is an important meaning exists for every object and subject. For example, needle head is very important for the needle. She makes the needle and thread part of her installations and performances. Needle and thread are symbolic of women’s space also tells about the traditional craft/art works of women like embroidery, etc.

One of her performances/installations ‘Spaces of Silence’ are meaningful creations. Kitchen indicates women’ space, also we should not forget the atrocities/domestic violence that happens on women in the kitchen itself. Many a women keep a secret of domestic violence that they go through. As a result guilty people move around without any guilt. She made one installation to express that meaning. She filled the floor of the kitchen with blood red rose flowers. Does she mean, there are thorns too in the rosy smiles of women?

Dr.M.Balamani

[This is a broad translation of my original article published in Telugu in Sopathi, Sunday magazine Navatelangana news papers on 4th November 2018]

Late Sri. Antyakula Paidiraju

“Perantam” by Antyakula Paidiraju

A name, Antyakula Paidiraju is one of the important milestones in the list of Telugu artists who contributed to the Modern Art concepts. He was born on 14th November 1991 at Bobbili of Srikakulam District and lived for 80 years. On 14th of November 2018 that completes 100 years and this essay is to remember his life and passion for arts.

He loved arts right from his childhood and could not continue his studies after SSLC. He joined Madras School of Arts and Crafts in 1940 and completed 6 years of study of arts in 4 years itself with distinction by 1944. It was a regular story that he participated in regular exhibitions and was appreciated by many during his college times too. Andhra Maha Sabha Madras conducted an exhibition and he received Gold Medal for his painting in 1941. After completing his studies at Madras he wanted to tour around important art institutions of India like Santiniketan and meet many artists and understand their works. He painted about a heartbreaking situation of Srikakulam drought conditions in 1944. Probably he saw Chittoprosad and Zainul Abedin’ paintings and drawings on Bengal disastrous Femine when he visited Santiniketan and Bengal. Certainly his Bengal tour had influenced his arts and thinking.

That was the time India was effectively agitating for Quit India movements. Every region every field was chipping their bit to join the movement. Artists expressed their resistance against British through their medium of arts. China was another country resisting British. Bengali artists amalgamated the Chinese Calligraphic ink methods and Indian subjects and declared their friendship with China, another enemy of British. Paidiraju was influenced by these thoughts. One of his paintings “After the Bath” is not only painted in those broad strokes of ink Paidiraju also signed vertically like Chinese style on the top of the painting. He was the student of Deviprasad Roy Choudhary when he was studying at Madras. Choudhary was a sculptor. Paidiraju too made significant sculptures. His sculptures have the language of Choudhary but paintings acquired a language of their own. It is because of the mixed influence, adaptations and thoughts of Madras school education and his Bengal tour.

British had declared their supremacy on every field and also put their hand on fine arts. They announced that the arts of India are crafts but not the arts of genius. They wanted to teach us their methods and techniques of arts and established British arts schools. First of it’s kind was Madras School of Arts and Crafts and later Calcutta and so on. To resist their policy, Rabindranath Tagore has established Santiniketan in 1920 for a ‘Gurukul’ method of Indigenous teaching.

One of the Modern principles of Humanity is individual identity. British insisted on Modernism. Indians declared that their identity is in their Indigenous Culture and lifestyles but not in the methods of imposition by British. Bengal artists expressed their life, culture and surroundings in their arts and Madras believed in their Dravida Culture to express. Paidiraju had seen both and realized that he had to express his own Telugu region’s Culture. He lived in Bobbili, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam regions and started expressing in his paintings about the living styles and Culture and traditions of that region.

On the face value one may think he is painting in the folk styles but if we observe carefully we realize that they are different. Like Mughal and Rajasthani kind of Royal court arts South India too had the court art like Vijayanagara styles. Similarly smaller courts like Bobbili too patronized arts. 18th C. Rajamahendravaram [Rajuhmundry] Ramayana paintings are the proof of that. He adapted those traditional/Classical court art styles and Telugu people’s living styles and traditions as subjects. It is something like this, if classical music is taken for the cinema songs, that music is modified for the mass aesthetic appreciation. That is what he too did. One of his paintings “Perantam” ladies get-to-gather has Vijayanagara art language and Telugu life style as a subject. This way he was supporting the Anti British movements and also that remained his signature style. The titles of his paintings confirm the same, ‘Bhagnaveean’, ‘Tilakam’[ lady putting Tilak on her forehead], ‘Naavik’, ‘Aalochan’, ‘Matrumurti’, ‘Winnowing the paddy’, etc. Once he said in a news paper interview that he is waiting for the arts that should have Telugu Culture and Indian styles. He expressed his fear that British had sowed the seeds of Modernism. “Their roots are deep now, how much we can come out of the effect of British?”

He also worked in Theatre, sang songs in cinema, wrote poetry. One of his poetry titled is ‘Akshara Silpaalu’. His expression is in visuals probably he saw letters also as ‘Silp’, sculpture. He advised that one has to seek expertise in the same what is near to their heart and other arts would help their core expression of language. He taught the same to his students and many became good art teachers. He expressed a wish that Government should take interest to establish art schools, art galleries and develop professional art and crafts.

He established an art school in Vijayanagaram in 1949 and taught many young students about art. After the education Pagallu rulers and when he started art school at Vijayanagaram, then ruler P.V.Raju had supported him.  When Andhra University established Fine Arts College, he was appointed for teaching art at that institute.  He was the Vice President of Andhra Lalitkala Akademi, established Chitrakala Parishat in 1965 and encouraged young artists. He painted more than 5000 paintings. The painting ‘Bride’ has many versions and modifications and postures around 100 paintings. Mother and child too is painted in different postures and expressions. His other paintings courtyard games of girls ‘Chemmachekka’ are beautiful paintings. Not only nationally, internationally also his paintings were exhibited in Afghanistan, Russia, Germany and many places. His works are in the collection of many important institutions and museums. He was a son of a craftsman, understood the modern concepts, supported the ‘Swadeshi Movement’, painted like our lullabies, and gained fame. Knowledge gained both the ways whether it is for British or for Indians.

Dr.M.Balamani

[This is a broad translation of my original article in Telugu published in Sopathi, Navatelangana news paper as an essay article on 11th November 2018]

‘Emotions of Worn outs’ by Vishakha Apte

‘Emotions of worn outs’

Abstract art has occupied one of the important roles in 20th C. art expressions. Few artists thought whatever may be the emotion and expression that do not have any specific form to define in figures. Emotion and expression are abstract. Artists felt there is a similarity in abstract art expression that does not have any defined figures for art composition. Few others found yet another meaning in abstract art. They thought of expressing the otherworldly meanings behind the worldly matters in abstract language of art.

Vishakha has chosen the abstract language to express meaningful memories attached to the matters. She understands surroundings at a different angle. People who live in cities have to adjust in flat system of living. They have to readjust the same living area for different mode of activities of life at different times. To suit the occasion all the objects of utility like chairs and tables have to change the mode of function and spacing. Sometimes objects that are in use may even become mute and still for the time being. Objects of our daily use are attributed life and death alternatively when they are in use or not in use. Objects get changed identity along with the change of location and importance of usage.

Many a time house and belongings becomes a clue to understand those who are living in that space. People organize their objects in their living space as per their wish. In a way objects/ belongings begin the conversation and define the person to whom they belong. Objects like worn out costumes, used tables and chairs define the personal memories of even after people leave this world. They represent the memories and the symbolic images of emotional attachments. Vishakha composes such emotional meanings. She composes personal worn out objects of use as the subjects of her art compositions. They are neither in dark nor in light hues, somewhere in between. Objects are not clear figures nor in total abstraction but they are abstract compositions on totality.

Vishakha exhibited internationally in places like Egypt, Cuba, Brazil, her works are in national and international collections, received 18 awards, participated in more than 50 exhibitions., created a place of her own in the world of Art. She was born in 1966 in Nashik and studied painting from J.J.School of Art in 87. Presently she lives in Bhopal.

Dr.M.Balamani

[This is a broad translation of the article originally published in Sopathi Sunday magazine, Navatelangana news paper, on 30th September 2018.]

image-Oil on Canvas

Visual Short Stories

Visual Short stories of K.Srinivasa Chary

K.Srinivasa Chary is interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani

One of the concepts of Modern and Contemporary arts’ is to revive our traditional arts and techniques for renewed meanings. Kolacharam Srinivasa Chary, teaching painting at P.S.Telugu University Hyderabad works with Egg Tempera technique. He narrates the rural life as an imagery of pleasant dreams moving in front of us, as short stories of History.

I-Your compositions look soft and beautiful, feel like to look at them again and again.

Chary-That beauty is because of the egg tempera medium.

I-Have you worked always in this medium?

Chary-Since 1986 I have been working in this medium. When I was studying in JNTU Fine Arts College Hyderabad, retired Prof. Vidya Bhushan came to the college and gave a demonstration on egg tempera technique. He was the best in this technique. Senior artists like Laxma Gaud came to see that demonstration. I liked that style very much. I have been working since then in this medium.

I-From where did you get your first inspiration to paint in your childhood?

Chary-Till I reached 7th, 8th standard, I did not have any understanding about anything, neither I was good at studies or had any understanding about painting. We are goldsmiths by profession and lived in a joint family. My father could do free hand drawing of necklace chain designs of one side and my cousin used to copy on the second half exactly the same. No one told me any work because I was not good at anything. But it is difficult to predict who gets the inspiration at what time. My cousin once copied Hanuman picture in oil on a 4,6 ft. canvas. I enjoyed that painting very much. I started drawing and copying small images. I used to go to RSS branch and realized some discipline there and that seeped into my work and routine. After the schooling I have taken science stream for studies because some drawing is involved in science curriculum. My teacher asked me to draw a frog picture on the board once. Including girls in the class everyone appreciated my drawing. I was happy. I used to draw the portraits of our teachers who were getting retired and gifted them on the farewell functions. All the college appreciated. I was very happy and that time I decided I will become an artist.

I-Why did you get the idea of painting and gifting portraits?

Chary-Mr.Liyakat Hussain was painting wonderful portraits. Mr.Venugopal Reddy, my elder brother’ friend, working in milk centre, was painting beautiful realistic paintings. I liked both and wanted to paint real like portraits and started copying.

I-When did you join the art college?

Chary-I joined in 1981. I got the seat in both Veterinary Medicine and Fine Arts College. My father wanted me to join Veterinary Medicine. He used to think artists are mad people. But I wanted to join Arts. Because of the support of my elder brother’ friend I could join JNTU Fine Arts College in Hyderabad.

I-What is your native palace?

Chary-My father is from Kolacharam. We lived in Zaheerabad because of family profession.

I-Who were the teachers whom you liked the most in art college?

Chary-Vasudevarao Kapatria, Kondapalli Seshagirirao, Gourishankar, Vidya Bhushan, Kavita Deuskar, many… When I joined the college, I used to wear Kurta and Tilak on forehead. First day of college when I reached with this attire, Kondapalli Seshagirirao was standing at the front entrance. He was wearing similar attire all the time. He called me and talked to me. I took commercial art branch specialization thinking I would get the employment easily. He advised me to take Painting specialization because he liked my drawing. When I was speaking to Vasudevarao, he gave me an interesting exercise. He asked me to visit cinema poster making people’ activity one day and Salarjung Museum another day. He explained me then, cinema poster kind paintings will remain only for a week, but our painting should remain for many ages like museum paintings. I shifted to painting specialization.

I-Most of the time you paint people and association of goats and rural life. Do you paint them as a symbol of Telangana life?

Chary-I did not start painting them as any symbol. When I joined for master degree in Central University Hyderabad, Laxma Gaud was our teacher. He used to send us out for sketching the natural atmosphere. I came from rural background. I sketched and draw rural life, markets, their life styles, blankets on their shoulders as their symbolic costume, their modest behavior when they come to cities. All those drawings come to my compositions even today.

I-Hyderabad architectural lattice windows also appear in you compositions along with rural people.

Chary-When I was in Master degree at Central University, DLN Reddy was also our teacher. He encouraged us to think more than the regular and work beyond the boundary and experiment. I started combining what I see what I feel and what I understand. My work has changed a lot gradually.

I-Figures and forms of your compositions look like flat cardboard pictures, walking in dreams.

Chary-I went to Vanasthali in Rajasthan to learn Mural painting. I did my M.Phil in 2006 on Bhimbhetka rock paintings of Madhya Pradesh. Both must have influenced my work.

I-Where did you exhibit first as a professional artist?

Chary-I participated in a group exhibition at Max Muller Bhavan, Hyderabad after my Master degree. Few of us were working together in a studio at Nampalli. Laxma Gaud helped us as his students and I could exhibit in Delhi, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai. Because of the teaching I get less time but I have been continuously participating in group exhibitions.

[Original interview article of this article is published in Telugu, in Sopathi, Sunday magazine of Navatelangana news papers on 23rd September 2018.]