Exhibition of creations by both trained and self-taught artists is a curious mix of themes and textures
P. Mohanudu creates picturesque three-dimensional images with nails, threads and sequins. Discussing his works — on display, along with those of 53 other artists from Tamil Nadu Arts and Crafts Improvement Association (TACIA), — he gives an account of the nails that went into the production. A depiction of Sai Baba took up 8,000 nails and one of a 52-feathered peacock, 4,622 nails. An illustration of a pair of powerful eyes was crafted with nails of three sizes — 10 mm, 13 mm and 19 mm.
His curious creations have won Mohanudu acclaim: a district award already conferred on him, he has been nominated for a State award. Being a self-taught artist is what adds glitter to his crown. Not just Mohanudu, but 50 per cent of the TACIA artists whose works figure in the exhibition are self-taught. They juggle jobs in totally unrelated fields or the never-never responsibilities of homemaking with a compelling love for the arts.
To give just one more example, S. Shanti, who has fashioned a representational work about ‘dreaming’ with copper sheet metal, learnt how to draw as a little child, watching her father — well-known film script writer A. Veerappan — draw comedy tracks before he wrote them down.
The commitment to promote self-trained artists that have made the grade is TACIA’s central feature, epitomised by one of its leaders, 79-year-old B.R. Annapillai, who became an artist through his own methods. The group’s greater achievement lies in its ability to bring these artists and the ones that have received formal training on common platforms.
Inviting the college-trained artists to the party bring the allure of experimentation to the mix. To mention just a few works, K. Ravee’s paintings — based on temple sculptures — give the impression of chiselling stone with gentle touches of the paint brush; N. Gopi Krishanan’s installation art on the subject of war presents synecdoche in metal, where pieces of objects of war convey chaos, speed and destruction; Sneha Ambare’s work unites Warli work with cave paintings; S. Anand’s works depict flowers by deft daubing of paint with the palette knife; and M.A. Sankaralingam’s strokes present arresting optical illusions.
(The exhibition is on at Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road, till August 26 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)