Ask sculptor and artist S. Hemalatha about the source of her inspiration, and her answer is simple — her father. Daughter of Madras Movement stalwart and Cholamandal Artists’ Village senior artist M. Senathipathi, Hemalatha began her career as his assistant, and her work reflects those antecedents. But the paintings, metal relief and sculptures in her latest exhibition ‘Texturous Journey’, on at Prakrit Art Gallery also reflect her unique artistic spirit, and her determination to push her own creative boundaries.
“I used to assist my father in making metal reliefs and embossing before I started creating small pieces of jewellery — earrings and pendants,” says the Cholamandal artist with two decades of exhibitions to her credit. “Then I moved on to metal reliefs and sculptures, and now paintings.”
Hemalatha’s background in jewellery-crafting is evident in some of the gorgeous enamel-work on the metal reliefs and sculptures in the collection. They include delicately-drawn peacocks with green, jewel-like enamel on welded copper, and a variety of playful Ganesha sculptures with splashes of riotous colour in enamel. Common themes run across her metal works, from the mythological (delightful renderings of Ganesha and Radha-Krishna) to abstract renderings of animal and bird forms (lively fishes and stately cows), evocative human figures as well as masks inspired by African tribal art. The link between these metal works and the paintings, she has recently begun to do (‘Texturous Journey’ is her first showing of paintings), becomes evident as you view the two juxtaposed with each other. As expected, form — specifically the human figure — plays an important role, and as with her sculptures, these brightly-coloured acrylics succeed in capturing and conveying a wealth of emotion.
“Metal work is my first love, but I didn’t want to restrict myself to one medium,” she says, explaining her foray into painting. “These paintings are on the theme of humanity, depicting feelings and human relationships.”
With minimal detailing, the rounded, abstract creations in earthy yellow, orange, brown, green, and red pulse with movement and energy, speaking as volubly as her sculptures of joy, companionship, and romance. Indeed, this is true of the entire collection, a lively and joyful celebration of life, colour and form.