Late Sri. Antyakula Paidiraju

“Perantam” by Antyakula Paidiraju

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


‘Ajay Sharma’ art works

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

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

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

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

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

Why did you paint peacock feathers for a crow?

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

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

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

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

What is the painting technique of this family drama composition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raghav Kaneria says-“Art is part of Life”

Drawing by Raghav Kaneria

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

Where do you hale from?

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

Your childhood, and education…

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

How did the children enjoy going to school?

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

Who were influential for your education further?

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

How was the education system there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think you express one single thought in various forms.

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

Vinod Daroz

New Dimensions of Vinod Daroz’ Ceramic art

I found Vinod Daroz’ art works every time displayed in different forms in different exhibitions. He works in ceramic medium. When we think of Ceramic art we immediately think about tea cups and saucers and flower pots. Modern artists started making pots more meaningfully and later the ceramic art field started making sculptural forms in ceramic medium. I thought it is better to go to Vinod’s studio in Baroda to understand his art forms. A conversation with him-

Where do you hale from?

My native place is Kalwakurthy, a place near Hyderabad.

Is there anyone in the family who is already working in the art field?

My uncle, younger brother of my father, P.R.Daroz is a known ceramic artist in the field. He studied in Baroda Fine Arts Faculty. We had a jewelers shop, printing press and family business. I used to do gold work in jewelery workshop after coming from the school. I lost my father at the end of my schooling. I was not able to understand anything, even about the studies. I did not like the graduation course though I joined. My uncle came to Hyderabad in those days to install one of his art works in one hotel. I was inspired looking at that. He lives in Delhi. I requested him I would go to Delhi and assist him. He explained me that I should go and study in Baroda Art College and then I should think of going there. My elder brother liked art. Because of the family responsibilities he had to take up family business. He encouraged me to go and study art in Baroda. I studied BFA in Sculpture and then Ceramics in MFA. I was home sick to begin with, but had adjusted later, could settle down and worked further.

Does your family enjoy your international name and your growth as an artist?

Our family does not understand much about the art field. But my uncle encourages me to do big size art works. The Furnace I have allows me do the works only up to certain sizes. I want to establish my big studio, big kiln and do big works.

I find no flower pots in your studio though you are a ceramic artist. I find new shapes of flowers and leaves. What are these forms, look like Ridge Gourd vegetables?

You can think my work is metamorphosed from pots. I used to make sculptural forms after the pots that I made initially. Later I started making ceramic forms inspired from the nature. When I went to a residency program in China I learnt to work with porcelain. That material allows very thin and sensitive forms as well the strength of that material is very strong.

Whatever the form you make whether it is a flower or any other form, all the forms are very beautiful, meaningful and they are poetic.

For the last 15 years I take the inspiration from our Indian temples and architecture. I went to Srisailam temple, enjoyed observing Srichakram, the patterns and the forms over it. My ceramic plate works and the motifs over them are inspired by those motifs.  When I went to Kanchipuram, Hampi, I thouroughly enjoyed sculptures over the pillars and temple walls. I do not work with the temple forms and patterns like a devotee. I work for the meanings and the forms of such structures and their styles. Every form of temple is meaningful, as it is meaningful about Siva’s Linga form symbolizing man and woman relationship.

In our villages people worship stones applying Kumkum and turmeric, tie colored threads to those stones, as a vow asking to fulfill their desires. I make ceramic forms that look like those stones and tie threads to derive similar forms. I use various materials to gain the meanings and forms that I want to make.

What kind of materials?

I use wood. I use 12 carat gold because gold indicates high value of meanings. I make stencil designs and transfer them to the wet ceramic forms before baking. All my designs look as if I am repeating the motifs, but they are not. Every design is different from another one.

What is this form, looks like our motor and pastel used in the kitchens as grinding stones?

Yes. It is like the same grinding stone. In a way it looks like our kitchen stone, also it is similar to Sivalinga form and generates the meanings of Prakriti Purusha, man and woman relation. I make many formats and designs that look like grinding stone.

I find butterflies very meaningful. Small size Ridge Gourds are available in Taiwan. I made similar shapes with porcelain and fixed those forms on flat plates. That looks like butterflies. I find lot of meanings in lot our daily activities, materials and the forms we use. I try to recreate them.

We learnt wire-cut technique right in our student days. I used that technique to cut the ceramic plate to create sand dunes of desserts. I like this work so much.

Whatever the work you create, there is a perfection and fineness.

That is because of my teacher Jyotsna Bhatt. She taught us to develop respect on clay. She used to say that is like gold, nothing less for a ceramic artist. She made us to work till we reached the perfection.

Your work also has the forms similar to Chinese Pagodas.

I work thinking about shapes of temple top-Gopuram. When I was in UK on Charles Wallace fellowship Tsunami devastated many places. That time my thoughts ran around Budhhism for sure.

Did you read Hindu philosophy?

No. I only work with many aspects of temple forms for their meanings.

Remembering Sri.Haku Shah

Remembering Sri. Haku Shah

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

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

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

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

Print Making-A surprise Game for Kavita Shah

Print making-A surprise game

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

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

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

Have you enjoyed after joining the Fine Arts course?

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

You are known for your print making art….

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

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

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

Can you share some notes your art works?

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

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

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

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

There are many design patterns seen in your work.

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

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

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

What are your further programs on Chhaap?

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

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

Chinthala Jagadish

Experiences Moulded-Chinthala Jagadish

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

My conversation with him-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you seen your calendars printed?

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

Your Paper Masche masks are different and very attractive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colours in your work are very impressive.

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

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

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

Experiences as Expressions

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

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

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

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

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


“White on White”

“White on White”-

 paintings by Sajidbin Amar

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

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

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

BM-When did you start painting?

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

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

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

BM_ What is a painting on surroundings for you?

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

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

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

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

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

BM-When did you start working in colour?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awaken and Asleep

Awaken and Asleep

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

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

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

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