V. Dhakshinamurthy, S. Arunagiri and M. Raja showcase their creations at Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery

The caves of Ajanta and Ellora rush to your mind as you enter Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery, which showcases the paintings and sculptures of three Chennai-based artists — V. Dhakshinamurthy, S. Arunagiri and M. Raja. The meditative face of Lord Buddha, sitting under the Bodhi tree, surveys you as you walk around the hall. V. Dhakshinamurthy, its creator, says he has been inspired by the primitive cave art and temple architecture of India. “In the olden days, artists used to create colours using earth and leaves. I have tried to use earthy shades such as fiery oranges, and leafy greens and browns to recreate the ancient look. ”

His acrylic paintings bring alive royalty. One of them, ‘Anthapuram’ features a queen resting in her room and a maid serving her fruits. Another depicts women playing in the courtyard with birds and creepers.

In ‘Mother and Child’, two prominent circles represent the faces. “I have drawn what I want the viewer to look at. I wanted to highlight the eyes of the mother to show tenderness.”

Dhakshinamurthy’s abstract works feature simple lines. “All ancient works of Indian art use simple lines. That is why we are innately abstract, unlike Western paintings that are steeped in realism. I have tried to recreate this abstractness.”

Rural rhapsody

In striking contrast to Dhakshinamurthy’s abstract strokes are Raja’s paintings of the Indian villager, with sharply defined facial features. Raja’s works bring alive the simple rural lifestyle. With flat noses and large round eyes, this is the pre-modern villager, says Raja. His subjects have tattoos on their blue bodies. “I was inspired by my mother, who had so many tattoos all over her body.”

His ‘Krishna’ features the blue god playing his flute. A peacock flies into the frame, carrying a feather on its beak to adorn Krishna’s hair.

Faded, yellow-tinged pages from the Mahabharatha form the background for his pen on paper drawings. The subject? Village men.

Ancient civilization paves way to cityscapes in the works of S. Arunagiri. Lovers, birds, and Nature form the main subjects. Themed on war, environmental pollution and modern lifestyle issues, they deal with contemporary life. ‘Sparrow’ shows a girl with a cell phone in her hands. Little sparrows flutter around her. ‘Missed Call’ and ‘Missed sparrow’ are scribbled next to the pictures. “Do we see sparrows any longer? I drew this after I read somewhere that the radiation from mobile towers on which these sparrows sit does not allow their eggs to hatch. They are slowly becoming extinct,” he says.

Arunagiri’s pen and paper works feature the portraits of men and women drawn on modern and ancient world maps. He has also displayed three of his bronze sculptures. The sculpture of fit Lord Ganesha, without his trademark paunch, is hard to miss! This is an attempt to put across the message of a healthy lifestyle, he explains.

“An artist should reflect society. By making the viewer appreciate my art, I want to create awareness about social issues,” he says.

The exhibition is on at Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery till November 18, from 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. It displays around 30 framed and 2,500 unframed paintings and three sculptures, priced between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 65,000.