Important facet of artists’ creativity is to express their feelings and emotions in the art forms after imagining new thoughts. One of the developments in contemporary art field is working towards that artistic expression that reaches the audiences in totality. Painting and sculpture of conventional forms of visual arts’ is a silent expression. Sometimes that becomes lesser mould for the length of the expression needed to hold the sensitivities of artists’ imaginations and deeper meanings. To create the new means is the focus of artists of this century finding new methods to express the optimum. Visual artists began to find more methods than two dimensional languages of painting and sculpture. Surekha Kumar searches for meaningful methods.
Surekha lives and works in Banglore. She completed her graduation at Ken school of Arts, Banglore in 1985 to 90 and Masters Degree from Santiniketan in 90 to 92. She exhibited nationally and internationally also had remarkable fellowships to her achievements. She practiced beyond two dimensional language of painting. She is one of those important artists to be counted in Video installations, performances and photography and combinations. Whenever it is necessary to enhance the meanings she herself becomes part of the installations. She works on the themes of ecology, feminism, gender politics, etc. subjects dear to her heart.
We human beings encounter many interactions, sometimes appreciations yet another times rejections and refusals. Whatever may be the situation, one needs to control their body for outward behaviors and expressions. We have to instantly wear masks to hide our feelings and present civilized. There is an important meaning exists for every object and subject. For example, needle head is very important for the needle. She makes the needle and thread part of her installations and performances. Needle and thread are symbolic of women’s space also tells about the traditional craft/art works of women like embroidery, etc.
One of her performances/installations ‘Spaces of Silence’ are meaningful creations. Kitchen indicates women’ space, also we should not forget the atrocities/domestic violence that happens on women in the kitchen itself. Many a women keep a secret of domestic violence that they go through. As a result guilty people move around without any guilt. She made one installation to express that meaning. She filled the floor of the kitchen with blood red rose flowers. Does she mean, there are thorns too in the rosy smiles of women?
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.
Abstract art has occupied one of the important roles in 20th C. art expressions. Few artists thought whatever may be the emotion and expression that do not have any specific form to define in figures. Emotion and expression are abstract. Artists felt there is a similarity in abstract art expression that does not have any defined figures for art composition. Few others found yet another meaning in abstract art. They thought of expressing the otherworldly meanings behind the worldly matters in abstract language of art.
Vishakha has chosen the abstract language to express meaningful memories attached to the matters. She understands surroundings at a different angle. People who live in cities have to adjust in flat system of living. They have to readjust the same living area for different mode of activities of life at different times. To suit the occasion all the objects of utility like chairs and tables have to change the mode of function and spacing. Sometimes objects that are in use may even become mute and still for the time being. Objects of our daily use are attributed life and death alternatively when they are in use or not in use. Objects get changed identity along with the change of location and importance of usage.
Many a time house and belongings becomes a clue to understand those who are living in that space. People organize their objects in their living space as per their wish. In a way objects/ belongings begin the conversation and define the person to whom they belong. Objects like worn out costumes, used tables and chairs define the personal memories of even after people leave this world. They represent the memories and the symbolic images of emotional attachments. Vishakha composes such emotional meanings. She composes personal worn out objects of use as the subjects of her art compositions. They are neither in dark nor in light hues, somewhere in between. Objects are not clear figures nor in total abstraction but they are abstract compositions on totality.
Vishakha exhibited internationally in places like Egypt, Cuba, Brazil, her works are in national and international collections, received 18 awards, participated in more than 50 exhibitions., created a place of her own in the world of Art. She was born in 1966 in Nashik and studied painting from J.J.School of Art in 87. Presently she lives in Bhopal.
One of the concepts of Modern and Contemporary arts’ is to revive our traditional arts and techniques for renewed meanings. Kolacharam Srinivasa Chary, teaching painting at P.S.Telugu University Hyderabad works with Egg Tempera technique. He narrates the rural life as an imagery of pleasant dreams moving in front of us, as short stories of History.
I-Your compositions look soft and beautiful, feel like to look at them again and again.
Chary-That beauty is because of the egg tempera medium.
I-Have you worked always in this medium?
Chary-Since 1986 I have been working in this medium. When I was studying in JNTU Fine Arts College Hyderabad, retired Prof. Vidya Bhushan came to the college and gave a demonstration on egg tempera technique. He was the best in this technique. Senior artists like Laxma Gaud came to see that demonstration. I liked that style very much. I have been working since then in this medium.
I-From where did you get your first inspiration to paint in your childhood?
Chary-Till I reached 7th, 8th standard, I did not have any understanding about anything, neither I was good at studies or had any understanding about painting. We are goldsmiths by profession and lived in a joint family. My father could do free hand drawing of necklace chain designs of one side and my cousin used to copy on the second half exactly the same. No one told me any work because I was not good at anything. But it is difficult to predict who gets the inspiration at what time. My cousin once copied Hanuman picture in oil on a 4,6 ft. canvas. I enjoyed that painting very much. I started drawing and copying small images. I used to go to RSS branch and realized some discipline there and that seeped into my work and routine. After the schooling I have taken science stream for studies because some drawing is involved in science curriculum. My teacher asked me to draw a frog picture on the board once. Including girls in the class everyone appreciated my drawing. I was happy. I used to draw the portraits of our teachers who were getting retired and gifted them on the farewell functions. All the college appreciated. I was very happy and that time I decided I will become an artist.
I-Why did you get the idea of painting and gifting portraits?
Chary-Mr.Liyakat Hussain was painting wonderful portraits. Mr.Venugopal Reddy, my elder brother’ friend, working in milk centre, was painting beautiful realistic paintings. I liked both and wanted to paint real like portraits and started copying.
I-When did you join the art college?
Chary-I joined in 1981. I got the seat in both Veterinary Medicine and Fine Arts College. My father wanted me to join Veterinary Medicine. He used to think artists are mad people. But I wanted to join Arts. Because of the support of my elder brother’ friend I could join JNTU Fine Arts College in Hyderabad.
I-What is your native palace?
Chary-My father is from Kolacharam. We lived in Zaheerabad because of family profession.
I-Who were the teachers whom you liked the most in art college?
Chary-Vasudevarao Kapatria, Kondapalli Seshagirirao, Gourishankar, Vidya Bhushan, Kavita Deuskar, many… When I joined the college, I used to wear Kurta and Tilak on forehead. First day of college when I reached with this attire, Kondapalli Seshagirirao was standing at the front entrance. He was wearing similar attire all the time. He called me and talked to me. I took commercial art branch specialization thinking I would get the employment easily. He advised me to take Painting specialization because he liked my drawing. When I was speaking to Vasudevarao, he gave me an interesting exercise. He asked me to visit cinema poster making people’ activity one day and Salarjung Museum another day. He explained me then, cinema poster kind paintings will remain only for a week, but our painting should remain for many ages like museum paintings. I shifted to painting specialization.
I-Most of the time you paint people and association of goats and rural life. Do you paint them as a symbol of Telangana life?
Chary-I did not start painting them as any symbol. When I joined for master degree in Central University Hyderabad, Laxma Gaud was our teacher. He used to send us out for sketching the natural atmosphere. I came from rural background. I sketched and draw rural life, markets, their life styles, blankets on their shoulders as their symbolic costume, their modest behavior when they come to cities. All those drawings come to my compositions even today.
I-Hyderabad architectural lattice windows also appear in you compositions along with rural people.
Chary-When I was in Master degree at Central University, DLN Reddy was also our teacher. He encouraged us to think more than the regular and work beyond the boundary and experiment. I started combining what I see what I feel and what I understand. My work has changed a lot gradually.
I-Figures and forms of your compositions look like flat cardboard pictures, walking in dreams.
Chary-I went to Vanasthali in Rajasthan to learn Mural painting. I did my M.Phil in 2006 on Bhimbhetka rock paintings of Madhya Pradesh. Both must have influenced my work.
I-Where did you exhibit first as a professional artist?
Chary-I participated in a group exhibition at Max Muller Bhavan, Hyderabad after my Master degree. Few of us were working together in a studio at Nampalli. Laxma Gaud helped us as his students and I could exhibit in Delhi, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai. Because of the teaching I get less time but I have been continuously participating in group exhibitions.
What if a child’ day raises and night falls surrounded by colors and heaps of canvases? Is one going to imagine beyond the colors in the days to come? That is Manisha Parekh, who has seen art since childhood because of her artist parents. Colors and brushes were her surroundings like playmates and toys of a child. Her imagination transcended the colors and beyond in the days to come.
One of the important languages of art is in the style of minimal expression. Manisha explored maximum possibilities in that style. She enjoys using different materials and knitting the designs, arranging the materials of installations. Of course she uses colors but colors are less dominant in her compositions, and creates an art expression of her own style. She designs the forms in a harmonious and rhythmic way. Life and nature has it’s own robust and delicate tunes twined with each other. For example a creeper, saplings and leaves or flowers create their own harmony with each other. That harmony is infectious to rope us too in.
The materials she uses are the organic materials like paper, wood, ropes, textiles, jute, clay and those are traditionally used in the folk arts. She finds new meanings in rare combinations of materials that were not found earlier. For example paper on wall or on floor, will differ the platter of meanings as per it’s base and combination. Similarly form of a circle if it is combined with a half circle, can lead to one another different form of delicate meanings. If a rope is arranged as a loop on a linear thread, does not it look like a 3 dimensional form of a script? Some of her works look like embroidered threads or sprouted roots narrating the future tree or shrub and their upcoming stories. Titles of her exhibitions too lead the similar meanings, “Shadow Gardens” is the title of her London show, “Wooden Woods” of exhibition at Bodhi Art, “Memory membrane” at Sakshi gallery. She exhibited internationally at Germany, Havana, Istambul, etc, also at Indian galleries. Another point to acknowledge her contribution to the field of art is she is the founder member of “Khoj” a platform for artists who believe in experimentation.
She completed her formal education of art under graduate and Post graduation studies at Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda. She did M.A at Royal college of London on Inlaks Foundation scholarship. Baroda Fine Arts Faculty has a curriculum. Students have to complete around 100 or 200 sketches and submit to their tutor every day. That fine tunes the hands of drawing of students. It seems she never liked that practice. Manisha does not begin her work on the basis of sketches or preplanned drawings. She picks the choicest materials, club with or arranges along with another material or color over it as per the direction of her thought process and creates the art works. Manisha’ work is adorable not only because of her contemporary conceptual understanding, she based her work in those materials of folk art and designing the forms and figures of craft practices with new meanings.
Vijay Bagodi born in a modest family from Gulbarga, except drawing and painting, reading and writing was never tasteful for him. He never knew that drawing and painting can become a carrier to feed bread and butter. He never knew till he reached Baroda that such magnum institutes can exist for art teaching. That Vijay is the Dean of Fine Arts Faculty of Baroda today.
His work is one of the explanations for contemporary arts. Black was considered as a colour of dismay and sorrow but he proved otherwise. He expressed many and different expressions in one colour. Social struggles and situations and the meanings of people’ behavior are given forms and figures in his work. He created the forms of one tone but to visualize difference of good and bad.
My conversation with him—
How much your parents were aware of Fine Arts?
Nothing. No idea at all. My mother used to do some craft works like decorating the gods and goddesses frames and pictures, using the buttons like objects. As far as my father is concerned artists are those who used to paint sign boards, whom he saw beside the shop where he was working. When I was studying Fine Arts he was looking forward when I would start my earnings by writing the sign boards! My parents were ignorant of this discipline.
What kind of paintings you did in your childhood?
I used to copy gods and goddesses figures. There was one local artist Mr.V.G.Andani. He started teaching art in a local art school, Ideal Fine Arts School established by his teacher Mr.Khanderao, who studied in J.J.School Mumbai. I joined that art school after completing my SSLC.
Have your parents permitted you to join the Fine Arts course?
My father did not agree. He insisted that art does not get an employment and wanted me to join other course. I joined Commerce but continued to go to Andani’ school for learning painting. I like the method of learning at that school. There was no difference of classrooms. Whether one is in first year or in final year, every one sits together to practice the painting.
Have you completed your Diploma there?
No. Mr. Andani wanted me to study in J.J.School of Art Mumbai. But I needed Domicile certificate to join J.J Fine Arts in those days. I joined Latur Fine arts school for one year and obtained the certificate. But I cannot afford to go to Mumbai for studying at J.J School of Fine Arts. Karnataka Lalit Kala Akademy was granting scholarships for students who would study further in distant colleges. My friend applied on my behalf. When I attended the interview I was pleasantly surprised to meet two senior artists K.K.Hebber and S.G.Vasudev. Hebber appreciated my drawing and painting and advised me to get admission in Baroda Fine Arts faculty. Till then I never heard about this college. It was his encouragement I came to join painting course in Baroda Fine Arts faculty.
Did you find any difference in learning at Gulbarga and Baroda?
Keep aside the learning of art, I had a cultural shock when I came to Baroda. I came from a small place. Everyone was speaking English in Baroda. It was a surprise further to see painting, sculpture, commercial arts, print making, pottery, so much of detailed learning in fine arts here. I only know ‘one room learning’ art school.
Earlier there were many beliefs in our minds that every part of the body and composition should be complete, drawing should look like real, sketching is only for practice, drawing is different and it cannot be a form of art expression. After coming to Baroda many such myths were broken, of course I observed Laxma Gaud creating wonderful drawings, even before I came to Baroda. I joined Baroda in 1979. After couple of years when Gulam Mohd.Sheikh joined teaching, narrative style of painting became popular amongst the students. I too was painting my surroundings as a story narration. I used to think earlier that if we copy the paintings of famous artists like Hussain, we too would become popular. But after coming to Baroda I understood that one has to create one’ own style and expression.
Could you make friends with students here?
Only with those who came from similar backgrounds. To add up to the situation, we did not get the hostel room for the first 6 months. That too happened for a good I feel today. Till late nights we used to sketch and draw sitting in the railway station, come and sleep beside the college watchman when we were tired in the nights.
You studied under the tutelage of internationally known teachers in Baroda…
Yes. But I know all these artists names earlier also. Our teacher, Andani used to show us the images of these artists works and used tell us about them as part of Art History he taught us. Once we exhibited a group show in Hyderabad under his guidance. I saw Sri.Laxma Goud there for the first time. His drawing and print making method inspires me even today. He encouraged us a lot.
What were the later changes in your style?
I was stirred by communal struggles, natural calamities and social situations. I am preoccupied always ‘how to represent those issues in an artistic language.
When did you join Baroda Print Making Dept.?
I studied Diploma in Painting Dept. from 1979 to 84. That time it was 2 years foundation course before proceeding to specialization. Then I studied Post Diploma from 84 to 86 in Print Making Dept. Immediately I joined teaching at CAVA fine arts college for teaching. I wanted to be near to my home, I am the eldest son of my parents. After 6 years of teaching I came to Baroda and joined teaching in Print Making Dept.
Have you created black and white art works alone all through?
When I was doing painting I worked in colors. One cannot use many colors in print making. But that has resulted into a good exploration for me. For an artist black is also a colour. I enjoy expressing many feelings and expressions in black and white including joyous moments and happiness.
Who were the teachers who influenced you?
There are many. K.G.Subramanyan, Jyoti Bhatt, Vinod Shah, Ramesh Pandya, Dhumal, Nasreen, Andani like that many teachers helped in different directions.
What is your message for the younger generation of artists and students of Baroda Fine Arts faculty as a Dean of this faculty?
Never lose confidence in yourself at any point. Believe in yourself that would find a way for you. Never run behind name, fame and money. Otherwise we cannot enjoy the success and failure of life in an equal pan and we become greedy of uncertainty.
Lata was my good friend when I was in undergraduate college. She did not get her masters seat. But our friendship continued though we were not meeting regularly because of my college schedules. We hail from a moderate town of Telangana. That was such a coincidence that we got engaged in a difference of one week and got married in a difference of 3 months. She went to Sydney and I went to North India. That was in late 80’.
We met after one year of our marriage. I planned my travel to my parents’ house in such a way that I could meet her when she arrived. We went and sat in our favorite place behind her house middle of fields and near bank of a lake. We went on sharing our experiences of our married life. Both of us went to new and distant places. Both of us experienced similar feelings with slight differences. Both of us had a problem of locating ourselves in a place of strangers with new language and customs. She explained one of the incidents with a heavy heart. Her husband once invited home couple of his friends’ families. She prepared good south Indian dinner and she thought of decorating her house with corner table cloths. Lata was good at stitching embroidery designs with thread and needle. She used to mix and match the color threads for the embroidery designs in a very creative and attractive way.
Telangana is popular for Lambada tribal community who must have migrated ages back from Kutch of Gujarat. These people were working as helping hands in household, rickshaw pullers, labour etc. Women of this community were very good at specific basket type of embroidery and mirror work. They were readily teaching those techniques whoever is interested in learning from the houses where they were working. Lata was very attractively used to mix many of such embroidery techniques. But such style of embroidery was considered as a middle class taste and was not a choice of class apart at that time. That evening of special dinner for special friends of her husband, one of them is an Indian couple who understands the table cloth embroidery she had spread. They mentioned about the same as a matter of fact. Poor Lata was taken aback. Her husband made a taunting comment after the guests left, that she should not have taken out those table cloths thinking of showing her smartness. Lata sounded little upset when she narrated the incident.
Years passed. Again we could meet only after 20 years. We wanted to meet at our same favorite spot behind her house but we could make it only for half an hour at a coffee shop. She has come only for a week and I was there for couple of days. Both of us had many other commitments. After asking about the whereabouts of family and children I realized we did not have much to talk. We lost our same old zeal to share with each other because of the gap of so many years. I casually inquired to pass the time about her embroidery skills and inquired whether she is continuing. I also recollected the incident Lata narrated about the dinner at her place and her embroidery on corner table cloth. She looked at me and laughed ‘oh, you remember the incident.’ Two of her teeth were broken and there were many dental gaps in between. I was dazed observing her awkward smile. This was not the smile earlier I remember about Lata.
She could never leave her passion for embroidery. She continued to do but closed every piece inside the cabinets. She tried to move out slowly to fetch the necessary groceries to begin with later to pass her leisure hours looking at different people, attitudes, and to pass the time meaningfully attending certain discussions and workshops. She started understanding the needs of the day and arranged for her husband and children. Her eldest daughter completed her fashion design course and opened a boutique. She experimented with Indian ethnic designs and that is the fashion of the day. One day she suddenly realized the new mix of mother’s embroidery styles. Lata’ closed cabinets were opened and that hit the market. Most of her daughter’ special customers prefer Lata’ designs. Her daughter kept her very busy. She wants her mother to be at the outlet with heavy ethnic attire in good business seasons, because that adds authenticity mark for her business. Her daughter also feels she should not speak in English with Indian accent, instead she should answer only in Telugu that would add to the authenticity and would become little entertainment for the guests. Lata once again awkwardly smiled and said, that day I was feeling inferior of my rural background and today my family is happy about my ‘Desi’ categorization. I am knowingly behaving ignorant of yesterday and today.
My parents hail from Coastal Andhra, I was brought up in Warangal in Telangana. My in-laws family too belongs to Coastal Andhra. Both the states divided from united Andhra Pradesh like quarreling siblings in recent years. My story goes further dividing my belonging. After my marriage I lived in Mathura [UP], Delhi and presently in Baroda [Gujarat]. I am afraid, if I have to mention my place of belonging…….??
After I reached Baroda I pursued my passion for art once again. This is almost 2 decades back. Accidentally I reached JTV Gujarati electronic media channel and I was offered to conduct artist’ interview based video programs for art lovers. They provided technical assistance including cameraman and a video editor. I made my first documentary video on senior artist of Baroda Sri.Jyoti Bhatt. I can speak Hindi. I cannot speak Gujarati. My understanding of Gujarati language was very poor to begin with. Jyoti Bhatt spoke in Hindi to answer my queries for video interview. He probably must have felt there would not be any dialogue otherwise. JTV was a popular channel in Gujarat for Gujarati audience. I completed the video and it was put for approval of the JTV organizers. I realized that a Telugu speaking person, speaking in Hindi for Gujarati audience. I was more than sure that it’s going to fail leg before wicket. Surprisingly they approved me to continue and make video interviews. Have they thought art loving audience of Gujarat would not mind to pardon Hindi pronunciation of a Telugu speaking person?
One day I approached Bhupen Khakkar, well known artist. After the discussion of what I am going to video shoot and interview him he said he would speak in Gujarati, but I can converse in Hindi. He beautifully narrated his short story too in Gujarati during the interview. He was a writer in Gujarati. Those were the days I was trying hard to understand little Gujarati. That beautiful interview 17 years back was heard by Gujarati viewership via my spoken Hindi. Gujarati people are very friendly. Hospitality is the core of their community living and wonderful sharing.
Today I remember and recollect those of my interviews I conducted for JTV. Artists who belong to Gujarati community used to speak either in Hindi or English except Bhupen who insisted on speaking in Gujarati. To bring out the information I was twisting my hands and facial expressions and try to invent a language of common communication. Courtesy British, India adapted and there are ‘Indianized’ words, chair, table, train, etc,. There are certain easily understood words in Indian languages like Kurchi [Telugu] and Kursi [Hindi, Gujarati], because of the pronunciation commonality. We have already invented a language of mixed basket like, Tinglish, Hinglish, Minglish, etc, i.e, a mix of Telugu and English as Tinglish. In this century of migrations new language inventions like Thindi etc, also happened. That has a different flavor to savor. If different languages speaking people come together to communicate, necessarily a new expression takes birth.
‘Sugar Lift’ technique of Print Making- Workshop by Mr.Vijay Kumar from Manhattan
Mr.Vijay Kumar, Print Maker from Graphic Arts Dept. of Manhattan, USA has been cordially invited by Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda to conduct a workshop on ‘Sugar lift’ technique for the Master’s students of Print Making. Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda has been always incorporating contemporary thoughts and new developments and been progressive in it’s approach. Morning of 19th of December 2016 workshop was inaugurated. Many a senior artists of Baroda, P.D.Dhumal, Naina Dalal along with the faculty members and students of the Dept. attended the inauguration ceremony addressed by Mr.Vijay Bagodi, Head of the Dept. He also offered the members attending the inauguration that the workshop is open for those who want to work on this new technique along with the students and teachers of the Dept. Result was a vibrant activity at Graphic Arts Dept. of Fine Arts Faculty from 19th to 21st December 2016, and I too had an opportunity to attend the workshop being an alumni of this Faculty.
As part of my Master’s curriculum in Art Criticism I was learnt the practical work of every Dept., Painting, Sculpture, Print making, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed print making though the techniques were very elaborate. In the process I have started understanding how the aesthetic of print making is different from other mediums.
Vijay Kumar is adept at traditional as well new techniques, etching, dry point, aquatint, non-toxic photo etching, Viscosity medium, multi color printing, many experimental techniques. He migrated to USA in 60’s from Lucknow, one of the founder members of Manhattan Graphic arts Centre and continues to teach there. He exhibited, extensively in USA, Europe and Asia, received highest prize in 2002, in an exhibition of prints by Royal Society of London Painters and Print Makers. His works are in the collection of prestigious institutions like New York public library, Museum of Modern art in New York, Brooklyn Museum.etc. His drawing is spontaneous has an antique Egyptian sort of intricate and graphic quality of lines and combinations, displaying abstract meanings.
Vijay Kumar is very communicative. Students thoroughly enjoyed learning new techniques. His principal demonstration was on Sugar lift technique for printmaking. Sugar solution is used for making a drawing on the Zinc plate. Those drawn lines are processed for etching. It’s a process of mirror image printing method of etching. This is a positive print technique for positive image. He also demonstrated couple of interesting techniques further. One is hot plate transfer of photo copy print of images and photographs to Zink plate, transferring the image by serigraph screen as a stencil, drawing with thick line of gloss pencil, etc. These techniques work with similar methodology of positive printing. Vijay Kumar was playing with the techniques as a gulp of the water.
Many senior faculty, Mr.Vinod Shah, teaching faculty of painting Dept. Vasudevan Akkitam, Indropramit Roy were working and it’s an opportunity for the students to learn more. Special effect of this workshop was acclaimed artist Mr.Dattatreya Apte from Delhi who accompanied Vijay Kumar to Baroda and guided the students on this workshop. I had a great opportunity interacting with stalwarts of Print Making Mr.Vijay Kumar and Mr.Dattatreya Apte along with the teaching faculty of this Dept. Mr. Vijay Bagodi, Mr. Sunil Darji, Mr. Debraj Goswami.
Padma Shree Award Recipient of 2017, Aekka Yadagiri Rao-
Regional Aesthetics of his Sculpture-Telanagana Stupam
Aekka Yadagiri Rao, Padma Shree award recipient of 2017, made a tower of sculpture “Telangana Stupam” and installed at Gunpark in Hyderabad, capital of Telangana. His sculpture has become a landmark for Telangana identity. ‘Separate Telangana’ agitations claiming for independent status of the state, separating from united Andhra Pradesh, made the ‘Telangana Stupam’ a landmark for the beginning of every agitation forum and to celebrate the separate Telangana statehood announcement a couple of years back. People gathered and delivered speeches or listened under that Stupam- as a landmark of Telangana identity. In the process of such Social political activities the aesthetics of his sculpture has come to the fore. This essay would look into Mr.Rao’s visual aesthetic of Telangana Stupam interacting with the people even if their focus is not to look at this sculpture as an art form.
Visual language has a silent communication. Art works and expressions of the artists gain monumentality in the artistic and aesthetic values but become mute objects in the loud social and political scenarios. ‘Telangana Stupam’, a sculpture made by Yadagiri Rao at the site where political meetings and social gatherings happen might be occupying the similar situation.
Aekka Yadagiri Rao made ‘Telangana Martyrs Memorial Column’ in 1972 and was installed as a public sculpture at Gunpark, near State Assembly in Hyderabad. It is 25 ft. in height, popularly known as ‘Telangana Stupam’ made of colored and polished granite material. This sculpture has a blossoming lotus bud on its top as the head of the sculpture in white marble. This is a metaphor to deliver a meaning that that is for paying homage to those Telangana martyrs of 1969 agitation who rallied their lives for the cause of separate Telangana statehood. The Stupam has depicted bullet impressions in the polished black granite at the bottom of the monument made in memory of those who laid down their lives for the cause of separate Telangana. People began to gather for meetings on ‘Separate Telangana agitations’ and scheduled processions at that ‘Telangana Stupam’ after it’s installation. The Historic movement of separate Telangana agitations began from his sculpture and celebrated the separate Telangana state announcement in August 2013 and the Parliament bill passing on its separate statehood in February 2014. The sculpture of Rao has added sanctity to the processions and gatherings.
Aekka Yadagiri Rao’s style of art-
Rao’s sculptures have a different style. He installed lot of public sculptures and Telangana Stupam is one of them. He contributed his share surely to the Modern Indian sculpture while exploring new avenues of materials and artistic skills. His sculptures are simple and truthful and are largesse in size. He achieved many awards for his contribution to the Modern Indian sculpture. He molded his firm ideology from his mother’s spiritual background and her floor designs, Rangoli, Indian mythological stories, and Vivekananda’s biography and his preaching. He follows the philosophy of spiritual guru Sri Chinmayananda. He began to conceive the idea of creativity as a divine spiritual force behind us. That has inculcated a mystic and intuitive vision in him. Rao enjoys a challenge in molding monumental size sculptures and works in stone-granite medium also in metal and wood. He creates simple sculptural forms that would express human values. His one another sculpture ‘Samadhi’ is a form of a Yogi to express spiritual concept of Nirvana, annihilation of the gross physical matter of enlightened soul. ‘Torch’, his one more work in steel made in 1972, suggesting a progressive environment required for humanity. Besides he also created the sculptures on ‘Jatayu’- wounded bird, a tragic story of a helpless bird lost it’s life while helping Lord Rama. ‘Man’ is a welded sculpture of a Tribal, exhibited in Triennale of 1975 at Delhi. ‘Aswamedha’ is yet another sculpture in Indira Park of Hyderabad has a vibrant movement and majestic posture of a horse. His sculptures have broad universal values. Aesthetically viewer enjoys a known subject. Rao’s works possess simplicity, readily recognizable forms but communicate strong statements and make us to think further. He picks up those subjects to sculpt who shouldered the responsibility in the success stories but passed unnoticed and unacknowledged.
Visual language is unprecedented being silent, not being loud, de-centered and marginalized to a corner. The Telangana Stupam as an art object of silence in that crowds of Telangana political gatherings does not appear as important as the loud speeches delivered there and the busy movements of public space. Political gathering sanction a token presence of the sculpture and treat the sculpture as ‘other’. But the situation is other way round. The art object-sculpture engages with its ‘other’, that is the political gathering. Both are mutually pushing each other in to the position of ‘Self’ and ‘Other’. Both these, ‘self’ and ‘other’ participate to redefine the incidents dialogically and mutually. The physical presence of mute Stupam as an art form, and the voice of the crowds, they are alerting each-other. The Sculpture must be peeping out not only from the spaces in between, the empty spaces of the crowds but also because of its height, standing tall and straight in-front of those moving crowds. It must be echoing the reference of its name whenever the proceedings keep saying the word ‘Telangana’ on the agitation forums. The surroundings of the gathering at Gunpark cannot keep out the material vibrations of the Stupam.
The sculpture at Gunpark-Telangana Stupam has its own way of presenting itself, like a bean talk of a child or a pleasant smile of a rising sun amidst the mild clouds or as dispersing clouds after the sudden heavy showers, like the cool breeze if it is in the August months of Hyderabad. Sculpture extends the story line of political activity of separate Telangana proceedings. This sculpture intensifies the site of the speeches through it’s visual effect. Stupam might even be acting as a weapon of display on emotionally blackmailing the viewers and observers reminding them on the martyrs of Telangana agitation, standing at the backdrop, as a story narrator of this agitation. The reference of Stupam also must be having the History references of Buddhist Stupam that is commemorating the relics of Buddhist monks. Simlarly Telangana stupam is for commemorating Telangana martyrs who sacrificed their lives in 1969 Telangana agitations. The presence of this visual language is present as well as absent in the scenario. The Stupam has become active and a living sculpture when it has become a participatory artifact.
Separate Telangana agitation might be a regional issue, but the regional identity of narrowness is not restricted because of the backdrop of this sculpture. As Buddhism refers to a casteless religion of specific philosophy, the reference of Buddhism in the name of Stupam this sculpture opens up the possibilities when the regionalism vs nationalism is on the forefront. It is directing for a ‘local’ generically rather than geographically because of the philosophical references. Probably the same reference is possible in the mind sets of the different social strata of casts and religions of Telangana to unite them on the cause of agitation for separate statehood. Telangana Stupam is emerging with the meanings of fusion of political hybridism on local on local, local on regionalism, narrowness to broadness, closed political agendas to openness of humanity, etc. New combination of political strategies and new agendas are incorporated, knowingly or unknowingly by accommodating this sculpture as a performative backdrop bringing shared experiences amongst participants as well as between the sculpture and the people. The Stupam is living in the situation and also catering to direct the situation for a better dealing and meanings to deliver. Backdrop of Stupam is increasing the dramatization.
Culture and the nation-region, state are intermingling somewhere in between the electoral politics. The presence of the sculpture and the proceedings of the agitation together appear like an environmental theatre while using the space of the Gunpark. The participants are Separate Telangana seekers, Stupam, and those 1969 deceased in the Stupam’s molding as a metaphor. The interaction in this environmental theatre is both temporal and historical, of present and the past. One can see the interaction of participants and the sculpture with each-other as far as the distances are concerned. Participants can involve with sculpture by keeping in touch, nearness with it or can keep oneself away from it. That sculptural space interacts first with participants before initiating the proceedings and speeches. That space encloses an aura and holds, embraces the sentiments of Telangana regionalism while pushing out the locale of narrowness because of the wide references of Stupam in the backdrop. Rhythm and the volumes of speech would be in synchronization with the texture and material of the sculpture. Auras of the incidents, proceeding speeches, do not end at the skin or outer border of the sculptural layer or human beings. They get extended on the resonances of the human voice and the echoes of the stone. They respond to each other, create another waves and layers of harmonious relation in the environment. That makes the space lively. Energy is transferred and transformed, cross their-own boundaries and interpenetrate. There is a cross flow of human, artistic and space energy that interacts. That sculpture and space are participatory on time specific public gatherings and also on the timelessness of artistic value. Stupam gains the position of a topaz and promises the authority. In such vastness Telangana Martyrs Column made by Mr.Rao gained a monumental presence.
Regional and national have state and countering the state relationship. Nation is thick as cloud and that is demystified by region. The nation has centrifugal and region has centripetal force. Regionalism is a strategy contributes to the one-ness of nationalism also represents the nationalism. Regionalism can represent nationalism as a micro representation. Nationalism is a sutured unity, represented by many units within.
Communication of that sculpture at the site is a process. This discussion is to achieve the aesthetics of art work’s communication. This is a necessity because mute language of art is an aesthetic message and the message is conveyed in a different code in a humble way.
Shadow of the tomb hovers around the rallies over there and asserts its presence. Viewer finds oneself in the company of that tomb. The shadows of the tomb long or short as per the time of the Sun rays make the space theatrical. Even if the audience misses the presence of that mute language at the first instance the amazing sense of empathy of Telangana sentiment would reduce the distance between the sculpture and the people of gathering. The straight standing Telangana Martyrs Column made by Sri.Aekka Yadagiri Rao stands ever for Telangana identity.
M.Balamani, M.Sc, M.A, Ph.D
Art Historian-Critic & Cultural Analyst
 He was honored at a conference on Backward classes by Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1979. Probably most of his sculptures represent the idea of exploitation of downward classes in the society.