Mark Rathinaraj's paintings, on show at Focus Art Gallery, portray yogic postures that signify change

Metamorphosis. What does the word bring to mind? Transformation, evolution, change. At artist Mark Rathinaraj's solo show in Focus Art Gallery, it becomes clear that change is attained through practice. Mark's bold lines, interspersed with pastel shades in varying tones, bring to life not just some of the most difficult yoga postures but also vividly portray man's physical and mental changes. A practitioner of yoga for the last three years, Mark says this series has been inspired by yoga. “My strength is in lines and I feel it's the most basic thing in art. This series is about enjoying change. And, I feel, yoga is the perfect way to portray it.”

His introduction to the series bears a line, ‘tried in vain, chronicled in line', perhaps to emphasise this point. “These are postures I'd probably never be able to do. But I wanted to express it through the only medium I know — art. Yoga is simple and I enjoy it. I wanted to share this. I also wanted to break the colour norms (warm for Indian and cool for West) and mix both to show change,” says the artist.

With the help of his yoga guru, Mark's series has evolved over two years. “I had some photographs of the postures I had in mind. And my guru also helped me with the others. If you look at the paintings, you will be able to determine where exactly the pressure is — as in the hand stand, where the hand takes most of the pressure. This isn't easy to draw and takes years of practice to get it right.”

Mark graduated from the College of Fine Arts in Kumbakonam in 1990 and has since then held group and solo shows around the world. “This is my fifteenth solo show. Last year, I presented ‘Metamorphosis' at New York, Singapore and Malaysia. The response was tremendous and people could understand the paintings well since yoga is universal,” he explains.

‘See and share'. That's what Mark tries to do. Most of his art is based on human characters steeped in Indian culture. “I paint things we see around us. In India, you are always surrounded by people. And at times, you are fascinated by some. My earlier series was called ‘Performer's Series', which showcased ‘karagattam' and ‘theru-k-koothu' artists.”

But ‘Metamorphosis' seems to be, in Mark's own words, ‘movements of people… people of movements… body of spirit… spirit of body…'

The show is on till August 6, at Focus Art Gallery, No. 11, Bishop Wallace Avenue, off TTK Road, CIT Colony, Alwarpet.

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012