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 Hema Hirani Upadhyay

Remembering Hema Hirani Upadhyay

My first experience of Hema was when she was a student at Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda. In an ‘interactive session’ – a part of the curriculum of the Department of Art History and Aesthetics- she talked about her work explaining to everyone, what inspired her and what made her look at things in a particular way. I was pleasantly surprised to see how different her focus of observation was.  She talked about paintings of artificial legs and the feelings of people who need them. The impression I was left with was ‘a beautiful and pleasant girl with an uncommon and sensitive angle of observation’.

My second experience was after a gap of many years in January 2013, at India Art Summit in New Delhi. The work here was titled ‘Mute Migrations’. This was another surprise for me. Many artists work with a urband landscapes exploring different angles and perspective of it, but this vision of Hema was stunning. A scaled model of slum dwellings and those roofs cluttered together, as seen from the sky. Standing in front of that work transports you into the space that it is inspired from and you begin to feel yourself as a part of its fast paced muddled activities.

Hema had contributed much to the art world, often jolting people out of their humdrum lives and showing them something new in a different and beautiful way.  The world ended up experiencing another jolt in the way Hema Hirani Upadhyay left the world , bringing a close her creative energies. This is an unfortunate shock.

M.Balamani, Ph.D

Poetic Reality


Sajal Sasanka Sarkar Work0002 Sajal Sasanka Sarkar Work0018 Sajal Sasanka Sarkar Work0001

Paintings by Sajal Sasanka Sarcar

Poetic Reality

Sajal Sasanka Sarcar lives and works in Baroda, qualified from Print making Dept. of Baroda Fine Arts Faculty. He has re-organized, while adding layers of fine paper pulp to print making process and explored technique to suit his work. Print making technique wore a fresh costume. His studio is filled with tins and jars storing the dry, wet paper pulp, and some lumps are in the process of drying under the Sun and few more thin wet, colored pulp layers are on the sieves ready to undergo the process of composing the canvasses. He uses vinyl eco-friendly industrial colors, sometimes acrylic colors and yet another times tea and coffee stains, iron and rust stains. To develop the methods and medium to go well with one’s own contemporary requirements on such traditional techniques is a meditative act, paying homage to traditional art practices. Use of traditional methods in modern practices was very rare till the decade back and recent change in contemporary art is exploring the meanings in medium of natural dyes and traditional techniques and methods. Exploring new methods to the required results is adding another feather in the artists’ works like Sajal’s and a viewing feast for the viewer.

What is pleasant in his work that persuade the viewer is, poetic elements giving a thrust to the visual imaginations, themes reflecting on changing society, living styles, illustrious personalities, History incidents. Many such elements mix on visual senses within the pleasing idioms. His father -in -laws’ poetry painted visual imagination by him has interesting canvases leaving a feeling of book fold. He takes pleasure in poetry essence and their universal meanings to display his visual expressions.

Sajal syas Krishnokali composition is about rural Bengal girl on cow-herds’ watch over, has dark eyes and dark complexion, dark hair suits her name. Hungry Bengal composition display a tiger’s upside down position symbolizing the ecological imbalance as well imbalance of the social peace and coexistence. The golden Bengal of previous days was, beautiful. It was like beautiful Krishnokali. Probably symbolizing female and a landscape sensibility is like a sensibility of Tagore’s poetry and Nadlal’s imagery for Sajal. He feels it’s a blurred picture of that Sonar Bangla at present. What the culture of previous days was unique to Bengal there is a change in the present times with changed and multicultural practices. He feels this is Hungry Bengal devoid of peace.

His other compositions are on social problems and individual’s identity struggles. Beautiful girls like ‘Bondana’ are thrown for trade symbolized with barcode, two beautiful girls composition narrate the story of human being with dual sexuality desires, Fatemah’s photo album explains the suppression of desires.

PL 480 is a composition on social problem of red wheat import of then times from America and Lal Bahadur Sastry’s move on green revolution is a narration of history, a story of reality. This composition speaks about the success story of Lalbahadur Sastry than the humiliation faced by Indian society, receiving red wheat which was equal to animal feed in America. Sastryji looks like Gandhi in his composition with folded hands. Probably the idea of Satyagraha of resistance popularly symbolizes Gandhi.

Cinema posters were taken on litho prints previously and at present it is taken over by digital prints. He made a composition on 100 years of cinema celebration compiling many heroes of cinema entertainment and Amitabh Bachhan mega star as a central figure who has taken over the minds and viewership. Many hero characters like Rajkapoor or Rajnikanth of Indian cinema are placed at the periphery. Effect of costumes of military uniforms to pink colored goggles of a young girl to earthy browns or whites every color has that pleasant natural touch in his treatment on compositions. His composition on 100 years of cinema reveals many symbolic meanings specific to his style of working and concepts. Amitabh’a picture is taken from that poster of his hit movie, ‘Coolie’. The urban labour class is well represented in that character role of that movie, and Amitabh fulfilled the role to make it a big success. Metro cities working class are the big patrons of cinema and success stories of 100 years. His posture has portrayed more than the entertainment of movie, but as a male icon of the period.

Sajal’s work is like candid photography caught people, incidents, life on natural moments depicting like an observant of body language. His attention catches the day to day life, activities and down to earth requirements of common people’s life, problems, entertainments, changing society and existential problems. Technique of paper pulp is adding more meanings to his compositions.

He signs his canvasses with a stamp printing his name the typical way Chinese paintings and Durer’s prints are stamped. Sometime back letters written were effective communication amongst people living at distances. They carried such stamping. It could be a memory of that practice too which carried forward the relations and emotions. He feels being living in Gujarat he should write his signature the way Gujarati’s mention and added Sasanka to his signature later.

M.Balamani, Ph.D

Glimpses of Telangana-Curator’s statement

Glimpses of Telangana

Curator-Dr.M.Balamani                                                                                                                                                                                                         20150421_070902-1[2]20150421_070811-1[1]20150421_073257-1[1]

Images-;1.Bairu Raghuram 2.Kavita Deuskar Goud-below-Nakashi folk painting

Recently formed state Telangana is at-ease after gaining its independent status culturally, socially and politically. Telangana region acquired its separate statehood in February 2014. Story of it’s struggle to become independent state has a long history. Earlier it was struggling to separate itself from Nizam’s monarchy where the Telugu identity was ignored. ‘Andhrodyamam’ began at Hyderabad in 1921, and its members decided to publish books, release newspapers, conduct open public meetings, and propagate the cause of the agitation for Telugu revival. They eventually formed Andhra Maha Sabha and Andhra Mahila Sabha led by women. They were working not alone for Telugu identity of Hyderabad state, also identified economic, social and political situations of the region on peasant problems, forced-labour, feudalism, to fight against the bourgeois community and their atrocities on women along with the agitations against the Nizams’ who were in support of landlords. Andhra Maha Sabha was broken in 1944, moderates joined national congress and who were in demand of justice against the inequality joined communist party. There were apprehensions at that time too and Telangana Telugu’s wanted to keep a different identity away from coastal regions because of their linguistic and cultural diversities with other Telugu speaking region.

Hyderabad was liberated of Nizam’s rule in September, 1948. That was possible because of the police action undertaken to merge this land in ‘United India’ mission on the decision of home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After the independence when the linguistic division of states were in demand in late 50’s, Telugu speaking land was made to form one state taking parts from Madras presidency and Nizam’s land of Hyderabad state-Telangana region. That pelted another stone on the land of Telangana. Historically merger of Andhra and Telangana was clearly a merger of unequal political entities. In the ‘integration of services’, all the employees of the Hyderabad government were re-employed in the Government of Andhra Pradesh at the lowest levels of seniority, losing income as well as promotion prospects as a result! Because Telangana was ‘B’-category of princely state and coastal Andhra was under British presidency as ‘A’ category region, as classified by British. Infusion of industrial and revenue sources from Telangana, a ready-made capital with the prestige of Hyderabad city and the surplus food of coastal Andhra region, the new state was ready to set the move.

Internal apprehensions of this region as well State reorganizing committee’s were, educationally backward people of Telangana may be swamped and exploited by the more advanced people of coastal areas. Eventually Telangana had been converted into a colony by the enterprising coastal Andhra people. Though the linguistic reference of Telugu word refers to Telangana logically, it is always and every time Telangana people were belittled by coastal Andhrites for their pronunciations and dialect. Democracy was not as developed in Telangana as they were under Nzam’s rule. Andhra elites empowered and benefitted living under the British rule of law, developed relatively progressive polity for hundred years. The coastal Andhrites who migrated to Telangana started with land acquisitions, caste politics, film investments, industries, etc. Coastal Andhrites invested to reap roses on this land while making the Telangana to pluck the weeds. Hyderabad has many migrations, Gujarati, Marwadi, Rajasthani, Maharashtra, Muslim cultures. Natives offered homeliness and oneness to them. They have kept no bars of difference mutually except for the coastal Andhrites’ colonial attitude of indifference.

Probably we cannot get away without mentioning the scholarship awareness on democracy and modernity. Telangana sentiment has become a key phrase of scholarly discussions too for the last few decades. Democracy is not about votes and ballot boxes. It is about deliberation, reasoning and acknowledging the other person’s identity, triumph of Humanity.

Arts & references;-Satavahana king Haludu in 60 A.D written ‘Gaathasaptasathi’ a story of 700 poems. One of the poems had Telangana dialect of Telugu, written in Prakrit. Nalgonda district must have been the south entrance gate at Telangana, where Satavahana Roman coins were found, many Buddhist monuments were on this line and travel path including Amaravathi, Nagarjunakonda. Mahakavi Potana of 15th C. wrote Bhagavataham is a pride possession of Telugu literature, was from Telangana. Prataparudra’s court dancer Machaldevi’s house had mural paintings it seems and that was mentioned by Srinadha Kavi in Kreedabhiramam. Pillalamarri temple has mural paintings of Kakatiya period. Kakatiya sculptural tradition is famous for its distinct mirror polish. Deccani painting school of Nizams not only flourished at that time it left a legendry lineage of art.

Earlier Yakshaganam was in a song form, with the patronage and support of Kakatiya kings that was modified to performance format, was performed also in Orugallu fort. Boorugupalli was known for its theatre activities. Telangana was known for its handlooms, copper, leather, silver filigree works, Warangal Carpet industry, Pembarthi brass works, Uppuluru and Gaju Ramaram glass industry. Telangana had natural resources like iron and steel that generated revenues and workmanship and developed weapons industry. Koilakonda was popular for hand- made paper small scale industry and Kollapur for folk arts professionals. Many small kingdoms were patronizing poets and writers and Telangana region had self sustaining social culture.

Telangana region is assertive that it possesses a separate and distinct cultural identity in the present times too. Batukamma festival of Navaratri times worshipped by women is made as a symbolic custom of this region as a populist aesthetic. The new mother goddess is formed ‘Telangana Talli’. ‘Telangana Stupam’ a sculpture of tower made by Aekka Yadagiri Rao and installed in Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh. This stupam has become a landmark for the beginning of every agitation forum and to celebrate the separate Telangana statehood announcement. Aekka Yadagiri Rao made ‘Telangana Martyrs Memorial Column’ in 1972 and was installed as a public sculpture[1] at Gunpark, near State Assembly in Hyderabad. It is 25 ft. in height, made of coloured and polished granite material. This sculpture has a blossoming lotus bud on its top as the head of the sculpture in white marble. It is for paying homage to those Telangana martyrs of 1969 agitation who rallied their lives for the cause of separate Telangana statehood.

Modern and Contemporary art activities of Hyderabad has to remember artists like Kapu Rajiah who worked on the folk art and culture as a modernist’ stylized idiom. He also trained many young souls in the visual art field. Regional centre established at Hyderabad by Lalit Kala Akademy is first of it’s kind. This was the first regional centre to have print making studio also. In the process of interactive activities of Hyderabad art society and Akademy, art platform of Hyderabad has become stepping stone for many eminent artists of the country today.

On the scholarship of universalism and the local/global divides, Individualism and regionalism are part of universalism. Thinking homeland is part of universalism. Units of ‘local’ make the global and the idea of ‘universal’ is incomplete without the individual and regional thoughts combined. Many artists of Hyderabad have rooted themselves in their soils forming the concepts of contemporary art.

Art of this series artists’ on folios have revisited their lived realities, relived their roots, cultures and natives. Telanagana brings a meditative hint of red soils in between the maize fields, different shades of rocks and plains. These artists’ works are not a song of nostalgia on the tones of lost in memories. It is not for reaching one single destination. It’s like humming a morning ‘raga’ at sun rise. It is about individual’ experiences of rituals, songs, festivals lived around, near to nature, cohabiting human and animal relations. Joy of replaying the childhood play, a lullaby reheard. Their work is lingering taste of their experience. The forms are like a pleasant smile displaying.

Art works displayed on this curated exhibition-a review

When Jagadish Chinthala was incidentally working on children’s theatre, he accidentally realized the subtleties and aesthetic meanings of paper-mache masks and different features of those forms. Masks represent emotion free or emotion filled faces representing the people of every walk of life. That also coincides with the material meanings of the folk art practices on our traditional arts and toys making. His works intimately achieve a pleasant interaction with the viewer. Whether paper collage landscape or door panels, they tap on the layers of memories without leaving any particularity to any place, person or surroundings. There is a discipline in his craftsmanship leading to aesthetic rendezvous and leaves a familiarity for the viewership. Visual language is a universal language, he explains.

Kavita Deuskar’s, subjects are labour class, minorities, Muslim girls’ little pleasures are represented. She is adept at egg tempera work technique. Art flows in her because her father, grand fathers and uncle were known artists of their periods. Labour class people migrate from interior villages and lead gypsy life to earn their bread in the cities like Hyderabad. There is a rustic and raw feeling imbibed along with sensuous rendering of the figures in her compositions. The looks of those figures are dazed rather than lost or innocent, coping to adjust with the location and situational differences at the urban milieu. For the last few decades growing urban constructions increased the influx of labour and imbalance in the social structure of rural and urban populations.

Laxman Aelay is always been engaged with the life around his roots and life of the village he lived back home. His perspectives have photographic angles on the compositions though may not follow the figures on photo realism of drawing perspectives. A moment caught is to unlearn the totality of the narrations. Spaces are meaningfully occupied with motifs for narrative modes. The folk art is given meaningful statements in his work. He fills the background and designs on the costumes and turbans in the composition to deliver a conceptual meaning that art is part of life rather it is kept concepts away in contemporary times. The lines and colors are thirst filled sunny afternoons of dry Telangana landscape. They are not ethnographic human figures away from our social world. They are part of our contemporary world.

Laxma Goud’s composition initiates the viewer to his symbolic meaning representations. Techniques and color composition amalgamate for metaphorical subtleties. The erotic tones in his work are strong and sensuous and have many hues. His teacher at Baroda Fine Art Faculty, K.G.Subramanyam advised him to look for an expression which is not interchangeable. This led his memories of journey to his native village. Subtle, psychological exploration of male female relationships, his drawings on delicate ornaments and crisp pencil lines are made part of the human body and costume. Erotic relish coupled with his work made evocative, dramatic and eclectic cannot be separated as sensitive desires and sensuous bodies.

Raghuram Bairu’s compositions are on the simple lives of rural Telangana people represented through the goat as a symbol of innocence and pale eyes of people and animals. Houses are represented without any decoration. The earth is orange red, baked hard in heated afternoons and the air is dry often in Telangana regions. People represented are of archaic beauty, robust and he derives much strength and clarity from his background of earlier Hyderabad. Erotic elements are suggestive through cocks and animals and they are made part of life in the compositions. Unexplainable quietness is engraved in to the compositions as if that is the silence of poverty prevails at dry lands. Simple figures are innocently interactive with their surroundings, vivid and give a lead to understand their lives.

Vaikuntham Thota was enjoying the folk theater of his childhood and Boorugupalli was known for that activity. Probably he was inspired by the dramatization and that took a turn in his figuration with angular bodies and dolls like appearances. He catches the beauty of the stitched dolls of parrots hung on to the swings of children, melodies of lullaby songs that were sung while cradling the child, sensuous women doing the household activity, aesthetic designs of textiles were made part of his drawing. His work recollects rural life of Telangana like a pleasant song. He applies all primary colors as if they are the descendents of the sensuous nature. He paints elaborately dressed seductive men and women of Telangana.

Nakashi- Folk Arts of Telangana-

Artists who practice this folk art are known as Nakashis, people who make ‘Naksh’. Today Nakashi painters are involved in 2 major styles, Nirmal paintings and Cheriyal paintings each with a purpose of it’s own. These are ancient expressions of Telangana, references found back to Kakatiya dynasty. Ekamranatha in his literary text Pratapacharitam mentioned, 1500 painters families were living in and around Warangal[capital of Kakatiya dynasty] at that point.

Cheriyal paintings are scroll paintings originally were displayed to audience to narrate the genealogies of local gods and goddesses. Scrolls were painted 3 ft width and 30 to 60 ft length also, as per the requirement of the narrators’ stories recitations. Story narrators come to get the scrolls painted by Nakashi painters. The narrators are known as Kakipadagala community. Stories are told and retold Puranas and are community specific. These communities inherit these scrolls generations after one another. Once the scroll and painting is degenerated they perform final rites for these scrolls. Artist, late Sri Kondapalli Seshagiri Rao mentioned interiors of Telangana existing with 150 to 200 years old scrolls.

Presently Nakashi artists have changed the length of the paintings to smaller sizes to suit the market demands as such those traditions of scroll narrations rarely exist anymore. Though the size of the paintings changed the sensitivities did not change. Stories changed to daily lives and surroundings of plants, vegetation and folk animal forms sometimes scenes of folk mythology too. Sensuous rendering intermingle the lively atmosphere. Paintings are made of earth based water colors painted with squirrel hair brushes. Daily lives and households make pleasant surroundings with yellows and reds of energetic colors. Formats are divided in to horizontal panels, narrates the whole story of one village or of one season’s story. Telangana landscape, and the cultural festivals and daily practices of life are well portrayed on the panels.

Before and after the British entry some of the Indian court painters were dislocated and became the folk art practitioners. It is understandable for some of the Cheriyal paintings have the Rajasthani style and Western Indian Jain styles, panel divisions and color patterns mixed in the compositions. That may be because of those wandering artists taking shelter at Deccani courts. Masks are another art of these practitioners made of saw dust, mesmerizes with lively looks. Tamarind seeds paste, boiled starch, white clay, gum, hand woven cloth mat are the materials used in the paintings and masks. These folk artists were living at Vemulawada, Karimnagar, Cheriyal of Warangal and very few of places, but the story narrators-Kakipadigala communities were moving around to many places.


Styling the Sheen




Styling the Sheen2015-02-15_10.30.17[2]20150111_144212[2]
Dr.M.Balamani-Art Critic& Cultural Analyst.

This is my analysis writing for an exhibition catalogue organized by ‘World Stainless Steel Art Festival’ at the time of Vibrant Gujarat, 24th to 27th January, 2015. Presently the same display is continued at Vincent Gallery, Ahmedabad. [Imagaes-1-‘Breathless moment’ by Ketan Amin 2-‘Steel men of India’ by Alok Prabhakar ]

-Reflection of images can be seen over the water or on mirror. Mirror reflects all the images without getting involved or without any interaction with the objects that come in front of it. It reflects at the surface level. Water represents the soul like tranquility along with reflecting the image of the object/element that crosses over the water body. That tranquility is complimentary for the perceptions. Such reflection can resemble an interactive serene conscious because there are depths behind the surface of the waters.
What is that represents in the reflection of mirror or water images? Why should we search for our image, conscious, mind and soul in those reflections? We can view our face and feelings only in such reflections. We cannot see our face on our own. Probably this was the question of many thinkers, poets or artists throughout. When John Keats writes about nature, “I’ll smoothly steer my little boat, for many quiet hours, …let Autumn hold, with universal tinge of sober gold,..” It’s a clear search for the reflection of soul and consciousness. It’s a thirst of that search to view those inner meditative images on the water reflections. Human mind always is/was longing for viewing such undisturbed reflection of the soulful thoughts.
Poets/artists want to handle an undisturbed and unbroken image and the self reflective meanings in the image. A mirror can reflect what has come in front of it as an immediate reaction not holding any answerability. Mirror throws back and water breaks its images with whirl winds. There is another surface that is metal surface, people used brass metal surface as mirror. This is a reference of 8th C. and it was the story of Goda Devi of Vellipottur of South India and Pandyan kingdom. Very recent, 100 years old discovery, Stainless steel surface has better reflection than brass. This metallic reflection represents the image similar to water, without its whirls, it reflects like mirror but unlike mirror it also process on its surface for the metallic interaction and aesthetic deliberations.
A large group of artists are given Stainless Steel plates to create the artistic deliberations for this exhibition. Such metallic meanings are stylistically molded by these artists to get the compositions of their choice. Sometimes artists made the viewer’s reflection also as part of the polished stainless Steel art work. That is adding a dimension of a moving life along with the static image on some of the works. Some of the artists pooled those reflections of the polished surface, yet another time the sheen of the grey surface effectively combined in the art work as a negative or a positive part of the composition.
Every material offers hindrances along with its meanings while offering aesthetic explorations. Stainless Steel material cannot be vertically invaded like wood or melting brass. It should be tapped, touched, made friends with, confide in it, interact with it. Then alone it reveals itself to the artist. Then alone this materiality coordinates with that creative thought process to project the objective form of that concept. The artists given the Stainless Steel plate are sculptors, painters and print makers. Those artists composed their choice of sculpture or painting. Few have maneuvered this material and few made the surface as platforms to perform their ideas and handled the challenges while handling the new medium. They have performed grappling with its hindrance as aesthetic. Expression travelled through the challenge of material in such cases.
These vertical invaders handled the material and malleability and have stylized the work in two kinds-controlling the latent forces of this metal or fully exploding those inherent force of the materiality. In a way artists of both these categories have performed over the plate or along with the plate given in the hand. Few also took the control over the emotions till the material has permitted them to exercise a corresponding control over the materiality.
Vertical invasions and sentimental sensations are portrayed together sometimes. Yet another times domination of intellectual interventions had to be given the lead role when impossible invasion did not allow the sensations of materiality to get released. When the challenge of this material didn’t allow their exercises then few levered the sensible representation alone at the surface of this materiality. But the materiality is handled by all those artists on steel strength, glossy shine and grey color aesthetic even by those that are not aware of this material handling. This is proving the qualities of this material for their artistic expression but not mimicking or making a parody neither by the artist nor by the material. As artists are always on look out for new material explorations for new sensibilities and expression, this material came in their basket of acceptable material explorations.
Metal’s materiality can be taken for granted as traditional that provides an archaic decoration for a third person understanding. As Ms. Deepikaa Jindal explains Stainless steel is contemporary material and different from that age old material list. Its finish is different from the earlier ones. This metal also has similar materiality of fearless strength but the response of steel is different from the earlier metals as far as artistic experiments are concerned. Contemporary art concepts and sensations have easy possibility on this finish. ‘Beauty’ of this metal finish eagerly responds to those meanings. Violent emotions, angst, hatred also seem to be polished possibility on this metal’s aesthetic explorations. Physical sensations are strong on this metallic sheen. There is a magical sensation on the whole of this sheen which is stylized aesthetically for expressions by these artists. In the process of accepting it’s unique shine, it could be also an intellectual rejection of conventional metallic understanding of materiality alone. In a way it is a rejection, acceptance and combining the primitive and civilized differences through this materiality and shine in these art works.
Its objective strength has given two kinds of artistic expressions-1-Maneuvering the materiality- who took charge of the metallic strength dominatingly to express their way, 2-Material deliberations -who performed making friends or keeping a distance with its strength while bringing the hidden sensitivities or yet another time working at its surface level. It is a performance because artists utilized their body language in handling the sharp edge and hard metal, controlling or retaining the mat or metallic shine finish. On the whole every expression created a congenial form acceptable to the metal as well to the artist.
1- Maneuvering the materiality -Largely sculptors are adept at handling the metal for art representation. This category of artists have taken the control over such materiality and shine making the viewer to surprise on their technical control.
Ajay Parmar- His work titled ‘Image’ and ‘Mirror image’ have reference to human being’s personality and the conflicts within. When the baby is born the image of the mind is clean and it is a vacuum, when the child starts growing, surroundings make a mould on the mind. Human beings can even develop a conflict, one is internal that is different from the external interaction i.e, displayed personality. He used the mirror reflection of the steel shine meaningfully to symbolize the image of any such personality. Another work, pyramid of energy is indicating the needed energy to solve the different and colossal problems of this world.
Ketan Amin’s work is ‘Breathless Moment’. A tree is protruding from the window of a house. Surprisingly the technical smoothness and the technical handling of the material leave a pleasant viewership though the thought of the work creates an uneasy feeling.
We believe that, earlier and our past had the simpler civilization. Growth brought in ‘Civilization and Culture’ and developed the social organization. One can also understand the social being from the point of view of culture of that society, that is, social being carries or represents that specific culture. Culture and civilization growth influence the human minds and that gets reflected in the artistic expressions too. It’s another and cultural critic’s way of looking at the art. If we believe our present time has a developed civilization, then, is it the hard time for greenery? Ketan feels with increasing urbanization and increased concrete constructions the climate and the vegetation have become breathless. Space of the earth cannot be stretched like elastic to divide it for concrete constructions and vegetation both. He feels now the time has come we have to grow the trees and vegetation from our interiors.
Ratilal Kansodaria a sculptor by profession, worked on the stainless Steel sheet with card board ease. Technique of handling this material is like a toy for him. His thought expressed is on the unity of nation. The connecting thread for uniting the nation should be working culture throughout the country and at every nook and corner. Only through work, commitment to the work, ethics and morals of work, our India can become powerful and can acquire a high position on this world map. He represented emperor Asoka’s wheel for ethics and morals, unity of work is through thread of connectivity, someone is flying the bird or a flag to put symbolically India on the heights and others are supporting in reeling the thread.
Yogesh Mahida—His work is on the conflict between place and space, lived geographies and changing times, interior and exterior, zigzags and architectural spaces, struggle of old order in relation to new makings and real estate consummation. Couple of hogs ascending the staircase on his dome like composition creates a curiosity for the viewer to question, whether his work is a comment on political scenario? Perfect metal molding and mini scale architectural design and the turns of staircase, astonishes the viewer on element of reality references. References of reality of mini scale certainly tickles the feet of the onlooker. A statement of criticism is obvious in Mahida’s art work. Political statements, a wit, and a parody dominate his work while maneuvering the technique of metal handling.
2-Material deliberations -This category of artists had made friends with the material and the sheen.
Ajay Choudhary-“My paintings are essentially a form of rebellion”, says Ajay Chaudhary. He feels he is free from conventional inhibitions of an art technical training. The abstraction and child like freedom of his rendering the composition is the result of it. He feels his work is spontaneous comment on reality. He says one has to take care to avoid scratches on the steel plate. He retained the steel grey as a border for the composition as well as the combination for his black and white color composition leaving that as positive and negative effectives on the composition.
Alok Bal-He works on a thought that few of the subjects might appear as binary opposites though they are not. Probably what he means is they are like two sides of the coin complimenting each other. We can extend ourselves further to discuss about Deleuze’s, one of the influential philosophers of 20th Century, and his idea of ‘Difference and Repetition’. He explains a visual description of the difference between resemblance and repetition. If a glass of water is filled, it is the collection of many water drops. Every water drop repeats and echoes physically like other water drop while filling the glass. But one water drop’s character does not resemble the other. In the sense if the first water drop may echoes the ninth water drop in physicality but the placement changes the soul. If the first water drop is not filled, ninth cannot be placed as well tenth cannot follow. Probably we can extend our thought to express that what is called resemblance is not the repetition as well the binaries are not the opposites as well.
Alok Prabhakar-His composition appears like a stage performance or a conversation between the illustrious personalities is disclosed to the audience. Whether Gandhi or Sardar Patel both were strong personalities of quit India movements or uniting Independent India. His composition found the similarity in steel strength and its shine as personality and popularity. Material surface has become the stage to perform his artistic idea. Composition is surrounded by linear objects are enhancing their steel strength characteristics.
Arunanshu Chowdhary- Certain works suggests a criticism of civilization. Arunanshu’s work is like narrating a folk stories or nursery rhymes. He works on environmental imbalance and space chaos in the urbanization. Development of cities, he probably says, is causing the displacement of nature.
Hindol Brahmabhatt-Combination of Art and technology has exciting results. Mimesis as a way of art expressions is talked about by many thinkers in east or west. What art does is not the imitation. It’s catching the essence of the object drawn. What the technology does is also a kind of mesmerizing for Hindol. He utilized the positive and negative shine of the plate effectively to render meanings to the shine.
Jagadish Dhyan Shreyas-His work “Wagah the Berlin wall of Asia” talks about Wagah border problem that is something similar to Berlin wall. The ‘talks for peace’ political meetings happening are only ritualistic. The situations in between the politically divided countries remained the similar. He had cut the portion of the steel plate to carve a border gate to symbolize a gate in between the divided countries. That gate symbolically dividing the inside and outside and opening or closing.
Jagannath Mohapatra-he folded metal sheet like paper folding resembling bird figures. These forms are very different from his regular painted figures that have a enticing realistic approach and these bird figures have an abstract configuration.
Jitendra Oghani-He treats steel sheet like paper. To retain the shine is also important for him for his composition. His work appears like paper cutting designs leaving a feel of paper on the hard sheet. It’s a thought to maneuver the hardness of the sheet symbolically.
Mahendra Kadia-If the birds are on the flight what is the visual measurement of its speed and energy? Such questions were the preoccupation of ‘Futurism’ artists of 20th C. of Western world. One can visualize imaginatively that speed may display many fast moving figures of the same person who is on the speedy move without leaving any figurative details. Is it the similar preoccupation when Mahendra is painting many birds in different postures and angles blooming with energy?
Manish Chavda- There is serenity in the moonlight or growing energy in the infant rays of rising morning Sun. He juxtaposes delicate bird figures in their sensibilities against the metallic smoothness. That reveals a meditation and simplicity, like music of nature, serenity of early morning devotional songs in his compositions. He controlled the shine of the metal to release only so much that can project his idea and required portrayal. Shine of this material is handled by him in a sensuous way.
Manish Modi-He conceptually symbolizes a meaning for ‘Satyagraha’ and references of Gandhi and freedom fighting. Freedom and Satyagraha also symbolizes independence and joy. He sees the similar problems of then times related to national and international disturbances in contemporary times also. He envisages a freedom from all those problems. He uses visual symbols of Satyagraha as groups of people together, contemporary times with news paper script on the plate surface, and birds’ flight as a symbol of peace, etc. He also brought in the references of earlier technique of making holes for print making of mass production. His handling of the material is a perfect amalgamation of techniques and motifs symbolically carrying the message.
Muktinath Mondal- Made an interactive work commenting on the Eco system imbalance. When the viewer comes in front of the image one’s reflection become part of the composition. That questions the viewer on their part of duty in this climatic change and ecological imbalance. It is probably to generate a thought in the minds that the present is always under attack from the past and future balance or imbalance simultaneously.
Nilesh Suthar is working to display the visual metaphor for human energy. His preoccupation with energy is again a question similar to artists of Futurism that we referred a while ago. He tried to portray the energy through boys who are playing and do not get exhausted. Excitement and enthusiasm of energy is visually shown with many images of one boy who is on the move.
Priti Kahar-“Me+You+Planet Earth” is her explorations on different materials associated with wars of this earth. War front always has a combat, chaos and power game, seeking supremacy over the other. Wars cause destruction at micro and macro levels. Stainless steel certainly reached the Military and Defense material of war fronts. She is saying her mind through the steel-cut figure of the world map.
Ruby Jagrut Patel-A fish in the cage sounds very symbolic. Fish cannot move outside the waters as well in the cage. That fish is doubly imprisoned. She mixed thread and a piece of cloth dyed with natural dyes fixed at the back of the cut portions of the steel plate, created a meaningful metaphor. Hardness of any thought will certainly have soft corners and the soft moments. Probably fish here is used as a metaphor for the caged thoughts, needs to be placed at its dynamic and effective base.
Shikha Chavda- She visualizes the world around and the life as a composition of many units, lines and dots. She portrayed domestic animals on the plates effectively making the shine of the steel as part of the composition. Her portraits explain the tranquility and unruffled nature of the docile character. The eyes of animals and postures made as real as possible and they are interactive. The relation and the placing of both the cows are shown as if that is the definition of companionship and the composite relationship between the human beings too. Viewer’s reflection on the plate creates a lively dimension of such cozy relationship in her composition. The figures are made while scratching the lines and dots leaving the shine of the negative space of the composition for positive meanings.
Tushar Kamble-Stainless steel has magical feel. He tried to catch the magic of steel through the subjects he composed. Michael Jackson is a magical man spread the magic of music and his presence had a magical role. Saxophone is also a magical instrument with unique notes, and reflexive quality to itself. He tried to catch both, the metal magic and reflexive quality of steel and the subjects he chose.
Uday Mondal-His work is like a visual documentary of what he observes and feels in the surroundings. The grey and black tones project certainly a melancholy. The imposing feet of reclining women surrounded by others feet and figures represent claustrophobia. His work looks like a parody of reclining rosy figures of Titian.
Vinod shah-He is a water colorist and adept at transparent and translucent possibilities of landscape paintings. He handled steel plate too like his paper surface. He brought the translucent feel of sky from the sheen finish. He camouflaged the material and his artistic comparable skills. That brought opaque color application in the place of his usual transparency. His figures slip away into timelessness away from History.





Revelation of Dreams

‘Revelation of Dreams’-Chippa Sudhakar’s mixed media sculpture

Chippa Sudhakar’s prints and art works kept into my viewing for long, long before I met him, sometimes in any of the exhibitions, art camps works display, etc. Introducing me to his works at those displays was like a passer-by introduction without any serious interaction. After a considerable time when I met him in his studio, I felt, without my realization his works strolled in to my understanding much before I recognize him in person. His studio ‘Banyan Hearts’, at the quiet and amidst the nature’s green and bird’s singing, away from the city’s grey polluted colors, and the heart breaking vehicular sounds, stands at the outskirts of Hyderabad, of course in the knowledge of many an artists and art lovers.
Sudhakar’s work has immense cool communication in colossal quantity. Art works-paintings, prints, sculptures, wood and mixed media are placed on the studio walls and the floor. They display a maturity on their elucidation. One of the sculptures attracted my attention, titled ‘Revelation of Dreams’. It is a figure of a young lad that has white smooth surface possessing real white feathers of a bird on its wings, looking somewhat like Sphinx, a human/animal-bird form. That boy makes us to believe, he is about to fly.
Revelation of Dreams-
Sudhakar said, ‘he is ever caught by a dream that he is about to take off and would be flying at those up above the sky distances’. Probably he extended his imagination and wanted to view a pictorial of that imprisoned image of his deep sleeps. It is possible for visual artists to deal with such desire and present a visual form of their mindscape. He is a trained print maker of two dimensional formats. He chose to create a form in three dimensional format that would perfect the hazy dreams to get a clear picture avoiding any un certainty. Presence of third dimension brings better view of diminished dreams. Two dimensional formats of prints or paintings are illusive on third dimension leading to further imagination. He is successful in negotiating a three dimensional form that would exhibit the drama of his dreams as real as possible. Dreams are hazy pictures but impose a real like appearances in the memories. He is presenting a recognizable form of those vanishing materiality of imagined pictorial of his dreams. He caught his dreams like vapors cooled down to form the water drops. Both, Real and imagination are travelling together for a perfect compilation in his work. This endeavor of his creation is interestingly combating the real and imagined, myth and reality, existing and non-existing, benevolent and malevolent, etc. of opposites and antonyms.
If a human being wants to fly one of the possible imaginations is one needs wings of a bird. Then the resultant form is certain to resemble Sphinx, a mythical figure. His Sphinx like human and bird form is not exactly appearing like vicious mythical figures of Greek, Egypt, etc. sculptures. His sculpture has more of a touch of earthly existence than the mythical form, more benevolent appearance than the malevolent appeal of such figures. Wings of his flying man have a smooth, white creamy surface because of the real feathers he pasted to the wings to get the real feeling of wings. As well he facilitated the sculpture with real hard machinery in the hands and feet as if that supports imaginative flight of human wings. Existence of wings for a man is unreal but the feathers of the wings are a reality in his sculpture. Human beings have a set complexions but the pure white color of the body of his sculpture is unreal. But the color of the sculpture’s body vouches more toward the reality than the colors of dolls. His works offer both menacing and reassuring combination, promising and unpromising approach for the viewership simultaneously. He says ‘he brought the feathers of a Turkey bird from China’. Is it not collapsing the far away distances between China and Turkey imaginatively?
Once again I rambled to read Sigmund Freud [1856-1939] who is remembered immediately on the subject of dreams, writes that dreams are ‘Royal road to the unconscious’, are a form of wish fulfillment. Such desires that have conflicting pleasure and reality principles are unacceptable to the egos of the civilized lives, have therefore been repressed in to the unconscious. That suppressed wish returns to the dreams. He speaks the content of dreams is determined by the circumstances and events of an individual life. He also says there are typical dreams they appear universally. References to the fine arts are surprisingly rare in Freud’s work, though he posits his discussion on visual imaginations of dreams. He does privilege verbal over visual, even though he often describes dreams as picture puzzles. Underlying mechanism for creativity is the sublimation as it is for dreams, the suppressed/regressed wish. At times he speculates that they represent actual events that occurred in humanity’s early History or Prehistory.
I put a question to myself, ‘When the events of History can play as regressed wish return to dreams, why not Art History and development of art of the past cannot play in sublimation on artist’s imaginations? Even if it is in the case of Sudhakar..?’
Julia Kristeva[1941- Bulgarian born French theorist] –Takes the thought from Freud and talks about instinctual energies that operate between biology and culture, soma and psyche, between biology and representation. Interpretations cannot be reduced neither to biology nor the social, they operate between body and representation of imaginations. Survival of the psyche is also important for imaginations. Art represents that that is buried in the unconscious that is both challenging and pleasurable. Art is always a response to the return of the repressed unconscious elements on both at an individual and social/cultural level. In this way art is a response to the individual and collective developments of Art, Art History and Aesthetics.
Richard Wollheim [1923-British philosopher] is another thinker like Kristeva who took the flight of thoughts from Freud. He is systematic in analysis about ‘seeing-in and seeing-as’ of art. The argument where he pitches is about the realization of the materiality of the canvas, paint or sculpture material and the incident taking place in the composition rendered by the artists. For example if a man is in agony and involuntarily viewer encounters the pain that is expressed by the artist in the art work, that is the communication prima art work. If the viewer’s focus travels from the ‘man is hit by an arrow’ as a subject, or the material of the art work like paint or metal, that is the best of materiality to communicate.
What is that I encounter as an analyst in Sudhakar’s work on revelation of dreams? The dream that haunted him was an universal dream as Freud says, ‘one wants to fly’. The sphinx like figure is making us to feel that he is about to fly. The subject Sudhakar wants to display his thought has taken the primary importance on viewership. If I say the visualization of flying figure Sphinx is from the art developments of history period and Western arts and Persian arts, I may not be committing any mistake, but it is insufficient till I further furnish the artist’s deeper thoughts in this commentary. If there is an ambition to feel more and live in different world is a fantasy that his thoughts are flirting. The focus of those imaginations have surfaced from the sublime and taken the figures from history of arts involuntarily. The sphinx figure is not a direct pick from the previous period of arts. His thoughts have processed the figure in sublimation itself. On the whole, picking up the pleasant feeling of his dreams has processed the unpleasant Sphinx to pleasant flight.

Balamani M
References- Ed.Chris Murray-‘Key Writers on Art: The Twentieth Century’. Rotledge. New York and London. 2004.


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Kirti’s paintings


One of the cool evenings I and my friend were conversing seriously on Art and artists. She was going through some of my published articles and said you have written considerably on the aesthetics of Silence. I took a breath extra length and started thinking about that. Evenings of end of July month in Hyderabad are comfortable enough though the occasional heat of clouds passing in the airs. Those rain filled clouds are unpredictable of their down pouring and mien of their overcast. Humidity in the breeze is like silent waters hiding their depths.

What is silence? While thinking more about that word, I remembered Kirti’s paintings. K. Kirti is a painter living in Hyderabad cannot speak and listen. Her painting compositions surprisingly are completely silent at the vocal cords of the figures and forms she paints. There is no movement of the neck and the facial muscles in her images and her compositions are like still waters. Those muscles do not move along with the sound of words spoken as it is in the case of speech movements. But her paintings are the storehouses of many feelings, outburst of expressions of her mind, sentences of her thoughts expressed in complete quietness. They explain what is quietness, perfect example for visual communication, a world of its own and different from the world of speech.
The visual language is unprecedented being silent, not being loud, de-centered and marginalized to a corner, excluded from the intimacy of any bonding within. But the situation is other way round. The silent visual art object engages with its ‘other’, that is the viewer. The physical presence of the visual art objects though it is mute, and the voice of the viewers, are alerting each-other. Both are mutually pushing each other in to the position of ‘self’ and ‘other’. Both these, ‘self’ and ‘other’ participate to redefine the incidents dialogically and mutually. Art object must be echoing the reference of its communicating expressions when the people watch them to understand its quietness. The presence of this visual language is present as well as absent in the scenario. Artist create the crucible of this language of silence, a work of visual art, but pushed the responsibility on its shoulder while exploiting the nature of its silence to bear the identity in its title. Kirti’s paintings are deeply explaining, what that silence is and the silent depths of visual language communications.

Silence of visual language
Visual language has a mute communication, a silent language. This effort is to read the silence of visual language and its silent presence. On translating the theme/concept of visual language the emphasis might transgress into many directions because this mute language cannot be assertive on the direct verbal communication. It lends itself for the interpretation. Reading such language is locating that voice that is un-obvious. Is its silence treated as primordial ‘other’ as anthropological object? Does it ‘s silence kept itself quiet at a corner in the context of communication? The art objects have the language of a mute person who is a stone-deaf and who would stand for a definition of vacuum of words. That silent object’s presence is like Mr.Augustin in Georgina Hardings narrative story ‘Painter of Silence’. He was transferred from one person to another for his care taking. His personal life communication is only through the paintings he does. They held no meaning till they were interpreted. He was transferred to his biological father who was found at the end of the storyline. He takes Augustin along with him because he would be helpful in his horse stable work. His biological father starts singing on his way back to mountain woods, with his peacock crack voice, while enjoying his ride along with wine and cheese. Because he was used for his lonely rides all the time. While singing he realizes the presence of his newly-found son beside him. He became conscious for a while. But he happily continued realizing the fact that Augustin is equivalent to absence and of no presence. This stone dead person is like trees on somebody’s way and make the presence full of life but cannot say anything on their own. They provide the way side shade, quiet and un-uttering and non-participating. They can make the marking of the path for people’s riding but cannot direct the way. Silence of visual language also falls under the similar similitude.

Aesthetic references
As traditional Aesthetic theories of ‘Bharata’s Natya Sastra’s understanding goes, Santa Rasa is silence and quietness of meditation and even the vacuum of enlightenment and white in color representation. But the silence is not the vacuum as for as the visual language is concerned. It is an ocean of feelings. Visual language is like an eye of the cyclone that can express the feelings out in forms and figures, it can astonish the viewer with colorful imaginative inputs, has its own assertions of communication.

Experiencing the Silence
What must be the space of silence in the arena of experiences? Is it that space that is in between the sounds of bells ringing? Does that gap signify the silence?
There is a voice and the silence alternates in the dance of rain drops. There is a silence inside the window glass when the outside of that window is filled with whispering of rain drops.
That window becomes the witness for the swinging heart beats inside the window, rejuvenated by the singing rain drops outside the glass plane. Stunningly dark silent night has protected both, swinging beats and singing rain.
Yet another silence become home for the unfathomable currents of huge waters inside the oceans or rivers. Silence is not a vacuum. It is one more melodious expression, a language that is communicated with a difference. A depth of layers is cozily embracing each other in this communication.

Silence can be similar to that sight of deep valleys. Imagine those valley depths are filled with white clouds, mischievously hiding all its vegetation inside, showing us those valleys as plain as earth. Silence is pregnant of thoughts about to deliver many sensitive communications.
Sublime is the example for silence-loaded with many unutterable thoughts. When the words are more than the speaking limits then one adapts silence.
The pleasures of sky bending down to kiss the earth at horizon,
when the breeze cooling the sweat drops,
trees standing still for the breeze to break its modesty,
winds turning the waves in its wilderness of mating with waters,
fuming evenings’ heat waves of earth waiting for the soothing Moon rays to enter its bed, when the hollow sky receives the vapors of magnitude as clouds, are impregnated with silence.

Pleasure and pain cross the boundary limits to form one plane of quietness without differentiating that is silence. Kevat helping Lord Sri Rama to cross the Ganges is the silent pleasure enjoyed along with the sad feeling of departing with Rama. Painful breaking of the womb for the pleasure of viewing a tiny life is a silent pleasure. Silent metamorphosis of breaking the cocoon to colorful fly is a nature’s phenomenon silently followed.
Silence is an antonym of what it represents. Silence represents impregnated meanings, expressions, unspoken words accumulated on emotions.

Art- Art History- Aesthetics and Balamani. M

Accidentally I landed in the field of Art History & Aesthetics. Being a student of sciences, field of visual arts was an alien subject and was not a known fabric for me. Taking off from such confusion and ignorance when I landed in the field of Arts and Art History, it was my astonishing realization that, the pleasure of understanding the Art and Aesthetics is a perfect compassion for me. I enjoyed like a fish in waters drinking as much I can, drenched like leaves in greens, flowers in colors. Field of Art History offered me many readings, study the artists’ expressions and reflect upon whether it is from the period of History or contemporary. Many visual artists’ expressions have many kinds of statements pouring with many feelings, yet another times filling me till the brim with many feelings, making me silent with loaded expressions and many Van Goghs, on understanding the pain and pleasures of their expressions, while enriching me in the knowledge banks of Aesthetic theories of East or West.