Religion, symbolism and spirituality take a new hue in Parameshwar Raju’s retrospective works

At first glance, it’s a scroll that comes in a tastefully crafted wooden box etched with calligraphy. It unspools to reveal a series of calligraphic works of Parameshwar Raju depicting the life of Krishna. The artist’s popular series, Krishna Leela, neatly contains itself in this scroll. Also available are etchings of Krishna, Chamundi, Vishnu’s feet, Garuda and Nandi on glass, large copper coins and a crystal cube. A part of the ongoing exhibition ‘Sacred is the passion for sacred integrity’ focuses on the artist’s expansion into different products, each speaking volumes of the painstaking calligraphy.

The main focus, however, is on the evolution of the artist and his symbolic representation of spiritual figures associated with different religions. In the Ashtamangala series where he uses the lotus motif, Raju presents facets of Buddhism, concluding with a fabulous interpretation of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The trunk and the branches of the tree are represented in small and large strokes.

He explores Jain symbolism with the circular formation of the Sun and the movement of the earth and sun during winter solstice, subtly underlining its spiritual connotation.

The series on Christianity shows the three wise men, the birth of Christ, the migration to Egypt, a beautiful Christmas tree with slender strokes and finally the Pieta. In each of his works, Raju uses blank spaces as much as the ink to show the intensity of spiritual events. The Krishna Leela series, a set of impressions on Puri Jagannath temple, Bhagavatham, Shiva Puranam and interpretations of Vishnu and Surya form the rest of the works on display.

Some calligraphic works are recreations of the artist’s works from the late 90s, 2003 and 2006. “Many works from that period were sold or are part of exhibitions in other galleries. I recreated them for this exhibition,” says Parameshwar Raju.

The exhibition is a learning experience for those interested in calligraphy. Using walnut ink and deep vermillion ink, Raju makes the viewers closely study his works characterised by keen observation. For instance, he uses a large red dot to denote Shakti. “In the South, particularly Kerala and South Tamil Nadu, Shakti is denoted in simple large dots. One gets to see the more detailed idols in the North,” he points out.

The exhibition is on at Poecile Gallery for Fashion and Art, Road no. 14, Banjara Hills, opp. KBR Park, till March 31.