A display of paintings by artist Siva is on at Varnam art gallery

Varnam, the only modern-art gallery in town, which is hosting a three-part exhibition by painter Siva titled ‘Fish Tales’, opened its door to art lovers keen to view the second part of the series which features 25 paintings.

“Fish tales has a tribal theme in which I have depicted the story of Madurai and Goddess Meenakshi,” says Siva. “It’s a tribal interpretation of the city’s history and myths. Though it’s a series, each frame is independent and doesn’t run in a sequence. The whole story can be conceived in every frame. I have tried telling the same tale in numerous ways.”

The thought process that started three years ago culminated in ‘Fish tales-1’, a set of paintings that wowed audiences at the Indian Contemporary Art Festival held in Mumbai last year. “Initially, I wrote the entire story and later added and deleted scenes whenever a new thought occurred. The frames shows emotions of anger and motherly love,” explains Siva. “I have shown Meenakshi as the mother fish and all humans as her children, the small fish. It’s the story of the Pandiyas who are said to have migrated from an island south of the present Madurai. Historically, the symbol of Pandiya country is fish.”

Siva provides an insight into his technique and craft: “I put a blob of paint on to the canvas and blow it in order to get fine thin lines. It’s quite a strenuous job and my mouth starts aching,” he says. “I have used earthy dark colours to showcase the island and mountains. The medium is a mix of acrylic and oil paint.”

Meenakshi is shown in the form of a big green fish, the main character in every frame. The other fish are depicted in skeletal form. Siva explains the trend of showing Goddess Meenakshi in green. “According to myth, Meenakshi is said to have a dusky complexion, an indication of her Dravidian origin. And when dusky women apply turmeric on their faces, they get a greenish tint. And that’s why Meenakshi is shown green.”

Fish Tales-2 tries to show the feminine energy dominating the masculine. Siva notes, “All the frames would have a linga. I have shown the male fish as lingas. Yet, the prominent character would be the mother fish (Meenakshi). It’s commonly believed that in Madurai, the goddess gains more importance than even Lord Shiva. Though myths say that Shiva dominated Meenakshi in the war and thus married her, people call Meenakshi the queen of Madurai.”

Every painting features a ball-like form, which symbolises Time. “Time is an enigmatic concept. I have shown time as a ball that keeps changing but is constant in a different context, for instance, beyond Sun and Moon, time is meaningless,” explains Siva. “I am working on the third part of Fish Tales and want to keep the theme simple. I wish to avoid controversies. Lord Shiva’s coming to Madurai and his encounter with Meenakshi is what needs to be depicted.”

Fish Tales-2 is priced from Rs.5000 to Rs.25000. The expo is on till January 4, 2013 from 10.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. For further details, contact: 9442883216

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