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Updated: May 31, 2011 18:50 IST

In love with the cow

Aruna Chandaraju
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DIVINE BOVINE Rustic themes and vibrant colours
DIVINE BOVINE Rustic themes and vibrant colours

ART Singapore-based artist P. Gnana takes a worshipful look at the nation's most revered animal

Given the many connotations that the expression “holy cow” has acquired, we wondered if the art show titled “Holy Cow!” would be iconoclastic or maybe a wry or humorous look at things.

It turned out, however, that it was an entirely and traditionally Indian view — a worshipful look at the nation's most-revered animal.

Fabric collage too

At the Galerie De' Arts show inaugurated by Consul-General of France Dominique Causse, all 30 works –– paintings and sculptures –– of Singapore-based artist P. Gnana are a tribute to the cow and its sanctity and association with piety.

This well-known international artist was born and bred in Tamil Nadu's Neyveli. His works have been collected in South Asia, South-east Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Most of these paintings are oil on canvas, a few in acrylic and the others, interestingly, use colourful fabric in a collage. Rustic themes, vibrant colours, innovative use of mixed media, and a tendency not to crowd the canvas are evident in these works. The arresting sculptures in steel and bronze drew much admiring attention from art lovers who attended the inaugural event.

The choice of the cow, says Gnana, was because of the enduring and strong childhood memories of assisting his mother in the breeding of cows. “I would watch and help her while she was feeding and washing them and even accompany her when she was taking them to the vet.” Some images appear to be inspired by the decorated bulls of the Pongal festival while human bonding is an element in others.

Always fascinated by aesthetics, Gnana followed up his mechanical engineering degree course with a formal degree in painting, having resolved to make a profession of his passion. He won the Lasalle Scholarship from the Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore, where he received his formal training in painting. “My life revolves round art –– I am surrounded by it. My wife too is an art-curator. And I am perpetually thinking of art. It is my livelihood, career and therapy. Besides the serious, focused efforts of painting, I am even scribbling and drawing in idle moments.”

Gnana began with figurative expression, veered towards pure abstraction and after a long affair with that approach, returned to the former and now he focuses on the psyche of human beings and their bond with animals. Cows, specifically, he points out are his current subject of interest.

The “Holy Cow!” exhibition is on at Galerie De' Arts, Barton Centre, M.G. Road, till June 27.

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