Artist Surya Prakash's works are a playful manipulation of lines, colours and textures

Surya Prakash, the Hyderabad artist is holding his retrospective exhibition at Artworld, an event which also occasioned the release of his book in English and German by Hans Burkhard, Consul- General, Republic of Germany. The book is authored by Shiladitya Sarkar.

For an artist of Surya's stature whose oeuvre spans more than four decades, it is impossible to appreciate and critique his works here. His name is to be reckoned with in the galaxy of artists, who marked a posture of difference in the post-Independence era within the national milieu. The exhibition has been thoughtfully put together, tracing his trajectory, from when he started his artistic journey in early 1960s to the works created until 2009. Hence his corpus is signposted with important developments, and he continues to experiment and explore; since his creative restlessness urges him to stretch his imagination and artistic vocabulary to continually change his visual language.

Surya Prakash, initiated his artistic practice in early 1960s; after his graduation and advanced Diploma in Painting in 1961 from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad. He established abstraction as his mode of expression, and if he turned to this form of visual language, it was because of the influence of looking at pictures in the small pocket books of masters as the Impressionist Monet, Post-Impressionists Cezanne and Van Gogh, Cubist Braque, Abstract Expressionists as Pollock, Rothko, Motherwell et al and at the domestic front, it was Ram Kumar's abstractions that made a lasting impact upon him.

The works of 1960s were based on his immediate reality of urban detritus as junked machineries or automobile parts. These were rendered in broad brush strokes and organic rhythm, through discordant colours, on large canvases, impacting powerfully the sensibility of the viewer.

In his thematic approach, Surya Prakash's concerns were dictated by his immediate environment. Having completely marginalised the human form from his works, he had to concentrate on formal qualities in his art making as colours, textures and space. His works foreground the urban detritus — a reality he encountered everyday — engaging with its images and forms to create abstractions that are a playful manipulation of lines, colours and textures; denying the surface appearance of objects that had inspired it.

Early works

These early works are very organic, meticulously worked through with subtle nuances of tones and shades creating effects that border on the surreal. As Surya Prakash journeyed on, his expression and repertoire changed. He moved away from abstraction in the early 1990s to bring nature into his domain of painting. The dead leaves lying on the ground or flying weightlessly captured his imagination and thus was born his series on ‘Flight', which intensely led him to engage with colours. The romance with leaves rendered poetically in nuances of subtle colours is suggestive of emotions and sentiments.

This was followed by ‘Reflections', which served as a metaphor and literally as reflection in water or any reflective surfaces. Here Surya evolved a surface texture which according to him “has to provide interest or otherwise there is no challenge for the artist nor the viewer”. The texture is tactile developed through short strokes and dashes in white on the surface of the finished work.

Surya Prakash today is associated with his engagement with fragments of Nature, as he gives us the flowers and leaves reflected, or submerged or floating on water, extending these compositions to enlarging Nature that offers vignettes of forests or seasons sans the human form. The stillness pervading his works is contemplative, serene and spiritual.

The dexterity of his craftsmanship is admirable; worked with meticulous precision and harmonious colour juxtapositions that are almost mathematical.

Yet it is intuition that guides his hand and his imagination contoured by years of confronting different forms and images allows a perfect development of his composition. As he passionately marches on with his painted canvases, he has neither diluted his craft of painting nor has he created a stereotypical mould of his style and ideas. His repertoire indeed is wide ranging and expansive.

The exhibition is on at Artworld, Ganeshpuram till February 6.