Damerla Ramarao-Revivalist of Andhra art

‘Perantam-[Baby Shower]’ by Damerla Ramarao

Damerla Ramarao-Revivalist of Andhra Art

Those were the days of Swadeshi Movements in India. People of the country united to fight against British to get independence from the English ruling. As every group of the society chipping their bit to contribute to those quit India movements, artists too took to indirect fight holding their brush and chisel. Artists of Telugu land were no different and joined the Independence movements to fight in their own way. One of the names to remember of that time is Damerla Ramarao. He was born on 8th March 1897 at Rajuhmundry. He lived only for 28 years and passed away on 6th February 1925. His name became popular amongst those period artists. He established an art school at Rajuhmundry. His focus was on composing the art of Telugu Culture, and the life styles. He developed a style different from the existing style around in the country at that time. He worked profound and extensive and produced 26 sketch books, 250 pencil drawings, 129 water colour paintings, 34 big oil paintings within his short life itself. He spent most of his time creating art works. All his paintings and drawings are preserved in a museum at Rajuhmundry as Damerla Ramarao art gallery available on view for visitors.

Rajuhmundry was an active centre of Literature, Music and theatre arts by 1908. The citizens of that town responded to the Swadeshi movement call of Gandhiji. One of the responses of that was to establish Nationalistic schools in India while keeping out the British education. Rajuhmundry too established such Jateeya Kalasala while giving importance for Fine Arts. Gadicherla Ramamurthy was teaching drawing and painting in that school. Ramarao was his nephew. Ramarao’ foundation of art and drawing was laid by his uncle at that time and this activity later became one of his cherished activities while keeping out his studies and play away from him. A.S.Ram arrived to this town from Bangalore to paint the theatre props at that time. Mr.Ram studied Paintng in Madras school of art and learnt the art of theatre screen setting art at Bombay. Ramarao adored Mr.Ram’s paintings. He was also flipping through the great Masters’ Turner, Constable like artists Landscape paintings. He left behind all other interests and slowly preferred to draw and paint alone. That became a reason for his father’s anxiety. Sir.O.J. Couldray was the principal of Arts College there. He recognized the creativity and passion for painting in Ramarao. He himself was an artist. He took Ramarao along with him to many important places like Ajanta Ellora and taught him the intricacies of drawing skills. Till the day Ramarao was only doing the copy work looking into the magazines to draw and paint. He learnt to look around to understand the surrounding environment and objects and to translate them to drawing and painting with the guidance of Sir Couldray. Ramarao also learnt through his tutoring to respect our Culture and the beauty embedded in our Indian practices. That continued ever and when he went to study in J.J.School of art, Ramarao was wearing our Indian costume of Dhoti, Uttareeyam and Tilak on forhead, even though other Indian students were wearing western costumes. Couldray convinced Ramarao’s father and he too shouldered some expenses to send Ramarao for art education at J.J.School of art Bombay. Principal of that college was impressed with his work and Ramarao was given the admission directly into 3rd year of 5 years diploma course. He completed his education in 1920 with Distinction and received his certificate. Ramarao married Satyavani in 1919.

Ramarao’s hard work along with discipline, passion brought him many awards and prizes when he was studying at Bombay itself. He received Waddington prize, Griffith prize, Bombay government prize, Mayo gold prize, and so many. His name slowly travelled up to Delhi. British architect of New Delhi Mr.Lethian asked him to do a mural for parliament Bhavan when the building would come for construction. But Ramarao left this world by that time when that mural was to happen. When he was studying in J.J.School, he had few good friends and one of them was Ravishankar Raval from Gujarat who became a big name in the days to come. He went to Gujarat along with them in the summer of 1918 and made paintings on the surroundings there. He named Kathiawad as “Athens of India”. Once again after completing his studies at Bombay he went to Gujarat, stayed at friend’s place and made many drawings and paintings. He made portraits of Bhavanagar royal family on that family’s request. Rabindranath Tagore visited Bhavanagar during those days to deliver a talk. Ramarao drew a portrait of Tagore and showed it for his signature. Tagore thoroughly appreciated his work and advised him to come to Bengal and meet artists around and see their work. That travel to Bengal had thoughtfully helped Ramarao on his journey of future art practices and fixing his goals. He was offered a post of Vice-Principal of Lucknow College of art but Ramarao refused and went back to Rajuhmundry to fulfill his passion for establishing an art school to represent Andhra art and culture.

Ramarao established “Andhra Society of Indian Arts” in 1922 in his home town Rajuhmundry and wanted to revive the art of Telugu land. His sister Buchhi Krishnamma, his wife Satyavani and his friends Varada Venkataratnam and many other friends helped him in organizing and taking forward this institution. Aims of this institute were to establish a style of Andhra art that would represent Telugu people’ Culture and traditions. That should be different from the styles of eastern style of Bengal’ wash technique or western style of J.J.School of art. It should represent it’s own style and language. Ramarao painted many pictures making his wife as his model. She was a tall and lean lady. That made few to think that he was painting in the styles of Abanindranath Tagore but that is not true. Ramarao’ style is different. It is something like realistic image but not the eye deceiving real image like photographic style. Images appear with sudden shift to water colour like transparency and with flat background. Most of the figures appear sober and soft engrossed in their work. He had a skilful hand drawing fine lines and rendered with appealing pleasant colours. Whether he was painting a landscape, Mythological stories, day to day life incidents or people around, he would catch the surroundings and atmosphere very aesthetically. He painted few stories of Budhha’s life where we can recognize the lines and colours of Ajanta Ellora style. Whatever the composition he chose he experimented and painted 2 to 3 times in differing compositions. Whatever the subject he chose it was representing Telugu people, life styles and traditions and culture. For Ramarao it was certainly the Revivalism but that should revive the Telugu art and culture but not the revivalist methods of following other groups of Indian artists at places like Bengal.

Ramarao organized National art exhibitions at Rajuhmundry in 1923 and 1924. His paintings on Krishnaleela had been exhibited in Delhi and London. He continued to receive many awards and prizes. He and his friends have sent paintings to Canada in 1924 for an international exhibition. But he passed away before those paintings reached back. He went to Nallamalai forests of Tirupati in 1925 January for sketching and painting. On his return he was infected with smallpox. He could not recover from that disease and passed away. By that time his name became popular on reaching many corners of India. Many condolence meetings were held at many places of India. The Art institute he initiated at Rajuhmundry was taken care and took forward by his friend Varada Venkataratnam till 1960’. His life was very short but he made his art to live for ages while establishing a specific style as art of Andhra and Telugu people.

M.Balamani 27th March 2020

[This is a translation of my original article published in Sopathi Sunday Magazine of Navatelangana news paper on 1st March 2020]

Master printer-Devraj Dakoji

There is a meaning for every object and all the beings of this Universe have equal value. Devraj Dakoji thinks on these lines and walks his journey of art. He was born in 1944 in Dharmojigudem near Hyderabad. He was graduated in 1965 from College of Fine Arts from JNTU in Hyderabad. Later he received a scholarship from Lalitkala Akademi and joined Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda for a specialization in Print making medium for his Master’ Degree. For the last 3 decades he is working in Robert Black Burn Print Making Institute at New York as a master printer. He teaches print making, educates younger generation and organizes display of exhibitions. He imparts knowledge and information on finer methods of Lithography technique of print making.

Devaraj spent his childhood in his home town itself and shifted to Hyderabad later because his father’s profession. His father and grandfather were practicing Ayurvedic professionals. He feels happy to talk about his memories of his mother. As far as his schooling is concerned, he was week in Mathematics and English and had an extra tuition classes with a special teacher. He used to draw and sketch in the leisure time in between those classes. His teacher used to observe his interest and made a query ‘whether he wants to become an artist’. His habit of drawing and sketching had also grown along with him in the days to come. He made sure his father agrees to pursue his interest further and joined Fine Arts College in Hyderabad.

Devraj went to help his younger brother when he was ill in Kashmir. He drew lot of drawings and images of beautiful Kashmir Landscape and locations and exhibited those images in 1965 at Hyderabad. Then Minister Sri.P.V.Narasimha Rao came to inaugurate the exhibition and enjoyed recognizing all those locations of Kashmir. Such style of realistic forms and compositions of Devraj has changed later to abstract and semi abstract forms. Hyderabad was full of small mounts and hills in those days. He used to feel while looking at those rocks, they appear as if people are sitting and chatting with each other in the nights. Later urbanization has started cutting down all those hills and those rocks started vanishing. Banjara Hills is one such example that was the place where Banjaras used to live earlier. Not only hills, he also relates himself with birds and other elements of nature as his friends. For him those are not objects alone. There is a give and take and worldly relation between all the fundamentals of nature. He supports Buddhist thought and thinks that every aspect of nature and living beings of this creation has some sort of a connected fondness with each other. Every object of this universe both living and non living elements are equally respectable. Each and every aspect of this world has an equal right. All those thoughts started appearing in his compositions. His later compositions are framed with many of such thoughts. Deveraj’ images may look like children’ drawings but they make us to recollect a well known artist of the west, Pual Klee. He would catch the meanings of the creation, the meanings of forms of materiality, unseen meanings of that supreme world and tries to catch those gist on the canvas and his lines of drawings.

Not only Devraj is involved in deep thinking, he also has the quality of consistent and constant working. He being a master printer of a studio he has to meet the artists to discuss for making the prints of their works. He was travelling for the same between Manhattan and Babylon for 8 years. At that time he used to sketch and draw on his train ticket itself. He safely preserved all those and made an exhibition of selected 100 drawings out of those travelling tickets in December 2015 and January 2016. His yet another exhibition’ title is ‘Wheel of life’. The energies of human life are supported by a Nature’ energy cycle. If this nature is the representative of that creation and that supreme energy, our life moves as another wheel with the support of that representative. Nature stands as a message giver, a supporting energy of our lives and it directs our path. Wheel of Life compositions are based on such thoughts.

Well known artist M.F.Hussain also given the responsibility to Devraj to make the editions of his images. There are many techniques and conditions involved in the medium of print making. What Devraj says is artists of creative sensibilities do not see those techniques as hurdles. They work to cross those boundaries to create meaningful print images. When M.F.Hussain wanted colours in his prints, Devraj got his colour prints done in Chine -Colle method and helped him.

Devraj along with his wife Pratibha started Atelier-2221 print making studios in Delhi. That was the first studio in India in those days, if artists wanted to take the print editions of their art works. But he could not run it for long time because there was no market for print making images on those days and many artists left that medium. He shifted to USA at that time leaving that print making machine for Garhi studios, Lalitkala Akademi, Delhi.

He studied in Chelsia Fine Arts institute on British Council scholarship. He travelled extensively in Europe in 76-77. He was appointed as Commissioner and the jury of international print biennale Bhopal in 1991. He worked as a supervisor and program officer in Garhi studios of Lalitkala Akademi in Delhi. He received gold medal in 1975 and a national award in 1983. He was nominated for John Michel institute. He has gained fame and name and exhibited at both national and international exhibitions and he works on canvases and in water colours also.          


11th February 2020

[This is the translation of My Telugu article published in Sopathi Sunday magazine Navatelangana news Paper on 2nd February 2020]

21st Kalamela-Jaipur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Art of Trupti Patel


Earthly Gems

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

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

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

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

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


image-detail of ‘101 sips’

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

Hemangini Bordoloi

Hemangini Bordoloi’ passion for Arts

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

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

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

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

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


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

Art of Deepa Gopal

Solitary Muses

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

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

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

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


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

Art of P.Gourishankar

Variation is the secret of P.Gourishankar’ expressions

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

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

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

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


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

Art of Bairu Raghuram

Black and white images-Colours of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your drawings look very real like images.

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

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

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

When did you start working in printmaking medium?

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

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

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

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

Congratulations for all your efforts.

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

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

Bairu Raghuram was interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani.

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

Art of D.Anantiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you learn first, panting or print making?

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

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

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

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

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

Were you employed anywhere?

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

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

“Performance” Art by Dimple Shah

“Performances” Another dimension of Visual Arts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could you convey that message to audience?

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

Your paintings have an element of theatre dais?

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani.

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