At first glance, it looked like a smooth sheet of eye-popping reds and blues, but a closer look revealed the ocean of detail and the textured backgrounds, pebbled to the touch. Every canvas against the stark white walls told their own story and, in this way, built up the story of Pandu Masanam himself.
An Epic In Colours at Shristi Art Gallery was an exhibition of some of the best works of the artist Pandu, who passed away in his sleep last month at the age of 42. As a young man from Guntur, his works were characterised by their acrylic detail and classical feel.
Dhyanam was by far the most arresting canvas on display at the gallery, standing tall at four feet. It featured Krishna sitting on his peacock, the vibrant green and blue feathers enveloping him, while the goddess Shakti stood in the background, a tangled powerful figure in grey and charcoal. Equally impressive was Indhra Parijatham, an eponymous work featuring a single dark figure encircled by women playing flutes, harps, drums and veenas, while an elephant uncurled itself behind them.
Lesser stories were also depicted, such as River Ganga, with the goddess standing with fiery red hair, a rishi absorbed in penance to her left and a gloating crocodile to her right. Lava Kusa showed the two proud sons of Rama in a forest setting, bows and arrows slung across their bodies and a horse cantering alongside them. The painting almost looked like a mural, with figures frozen in stone, even as the detailing managed to breathe life into them.
Along another wall, a handful of paintings stood out simply for the difference in technique, although the artist stuck to his medium of acrylic on canvas. Mandaram had a young woman nestled against her mother, who was weaving a blood-red hibiscus into her hair. Pillanagrovi was a seemingly simplistic detail of a bare-chested turbaned young man leaning against a cow, playing his flute in comfortable solitude. Or the sweet and simple My Friend, showing a woman stroking a peacock coiled around her. Resorting to more sombre brown and navy blue, these works told stories of the more commonplace rather than the epic.
The Epic In Colours was on display till November 14, but the paintings continue to be on sale at Shristi Art Gallery, Plot No. 267, Road No. 15, Jubilee Hills. Call 23540023 for more details.