Four artists leave it to the viewer’s imagination to make sense of their creations on display at the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery

On first sight, the painting intrigues. Look deeper and the shades of brown, the dots, and triangles take the shape of buildings. The painting is a result of artist K. Srinivasan’s visit to Bangalore. Inspired by the buildings he saw there, Srinivasan traced them on his canvas back home.

But not all of his abstract works have such stories to them. Why should they? asks the 77-year-old artist. “The most difficult thing for an artist is to explain his paintings,” he says. “How do you explain music? If you ask a potter how he shaped his pot, he cannot explain it in words.”

Srinivasan’s paintings require the viewer to think. The forms and textures he has described on canvas are open to interpretation, he says. Dots and triangles are predominant in most of his works.

Pulli kolams

This is because he is inspired by the intricate pulli kolams he admired during his younger days in Lakshmi Puram, Chennai. “Kolam is always an exciting thing. It is a form of abstraction beyond compare.” Artists Srinivasan, P. Perumal, R. Varadarajan and Henry Daniel, college-mates at the Government School of Arts & Crafts, Madras, (currently The College of Fine Arts) during the 50s have come together to show their works at the aptly titled exhibition ‘4some from the 50ees’, as part of the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Trust’s silver jubilee exhibitions. The paintings are curated by art critic Lakshmi Venkatraman who runs Gallery Sri Parvati in Chennai.

Perumal, a native of Srivilliputhur, has painted scenes from rural India. His dark-skinned women in ankle-length saris and shirtless men with dhotis folded up to their knees are realistic. Done on vast canvases, some of them measuring 45”x32”, Perumal’s works are stunning.

Henry Daniel’s paintings are haunting. What is that faceless woman seated alone in a dark wood thinking? How much further does the lady with firewood on her head have to travel to cross that lone stretch of forest?

His painting of a horse with a woman dancing in abandon above it is an eye-catcher. Lakshmi points out that the painting can mean anything. “The lady might have just jumped off the horse. You never know why she is dancing that way,” she says.

It is abstracts again at Varadharajan’s camp. Done in bright colours, he has mixed collage work to add patterns to his works. Again, his paintings challenge the untrained eye. But all it takes is a little bit of interest and imagination to enjoy a painting, explains Srinivasan. “You don’t need to understand a painting. You have to enjoy it, that’s all.”

‘4some from the 50ees’ is on at Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery, Avanashi Road, till January 8 between 10 a.m and 6.30 p.m. For details, call 0422-2574110.