N. Tirunavukarasu brings home art work whenever he returns from his travels and he shares some of the art works at his art gallery, Renaissance

A trip to Indonesia to meet up with an old school friend opened up a whole new business prospect before N. Tirunavukarasu, a stock broker and travel lover. The paintings and art work in the temples in Yogyakarta and Bali mesmerised him. He also noticed the thriving art market in the country. “Most of the products were affordable. That is when I realised I should start a gallery here to expose people to art from different parts of the world.” In 2009, he set up Renaissance Art Gallery.

The booming market for art in India, especially in Coimbatore, was another reason, he says. “The real estate business is picking up in the city. More and more people are buying flats and houses. And, naturally, they want to do up the interiors of their house with paintings.” But good art is expensive in the country, he says. “When I wanted to decorate my house, I searched for some good paintings to hang on my walls. However, I could not find any good stuff that was affordable. One main reason to start the gallery was to introduce people here to good, affordable art.”

Now, his gallery houses around 75 paintings from East Asian and African countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand and Uganda. Farmers sporting straw hats, lush green farms, and beautiful sunset shots form the main theme of most of the Indonesian paintings in his collection. “I knew these paintings would go down well in the Indian market. We Indians love bright colours and Indonesian paintings especially use a lot of yellows, reds and greens. And, most of them feature in agrarian settings.”

In Thailand and Cambodia, they ltravelled to remote areas and got to see the local arts and crafts. “The East Asian craftsmen have good artistic sense. They are flexible with their hands and innovative. They even made two-sided tooth picks, which was later introduced in the Indian market!”

The hustle and bustle of an African village market comes alive in a few paintings hanging on the walls in the gallery. “Ï was on an African safari in Uganda when I passed through a village and saw the local villagers there. They were selling these. These are drawn using vegetable dyes,” says Tirunavukarasu. Most of these paintings are done on tree barks, palm leaves and cloth. “Their exotic look caught my eyes. I knew I had to bring them here,” he says. Communicating with the village artists was not a cake walk, he admits. “If not for my friend there, I would have been in a tight spot,” he smiles.

The gallery also stocks beautiful Cambodian paintings, featuring lovers, sunsets and scenery, drawn on silk fabric, and held together by bamboo frames. These are shaped like the Japanese hand fans.

Next to these, a shelf holds wooden ashtrays, bamboo beer mugs, Tibetan prayer wheels, and a hundred other curios, priced between Rs. 300 and Rs. 500. “I carted it all the way from Arunachal Pradesh. Since I studied in a Sainik school, I have a lot of friends in Army and they call me over when they get posted in Sikkim, Jammu, Nathu La and Tawang.” And, he never misses the call of the mountains, says Tirunavukarasu. “That is my only chance to trek up the hills. And, every time, I return home with some artifact or the other.” A globe trotter since his college days, Tirunavukarasu says travelling gives him a high. “And collecting art is a side business.”

His family thinks he is crazy, when they see his passion for travelling and art, he says. “But, that is the conventional approach of the society. We think work with fixed income is more important. We need more people to invest in art and encourage the artists.”

Renaissance Art Gallery is located at Ground Floor of Pioneer Buildings on Avanashi Road. The paintings are priced between Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 30,000. For more details, call 94426-37873.