Green fields, temples and life in villages form the base of the work of the artists and a sculptor in two different art galleries in Coimbatore

Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery

A hungry peacock searches for its prey, in all its colourful splendour. A woodpecker picks at a worm that has fallen from a tree. A mynah drops food into the mouth of its young. A colourful kingfisher delightfully holds onto its prize catch.

These are pleasing sights that are getting rarer to find, and for artist D. Saravanan, it is these that form the subject of his water colour paintings, which are on display at the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery.

“Having grown up in Kumbakonam, I have seen birds in their natural environment in plenty. Many of these birds are getting rare to sight in cities, as the trees are dwindling in number. We may not find any of these birds in future if we don’t preserve nature,” says Saravanan, who has a Masters in Fine Arts from Kumbakonam College of Fine Arts.

Your eyes shift towards another painting, where a boy is trying to release birds from a cage.

“It is in their natural habitat that birds are most comfortable in, and the boy realises this fact,” Saravanan explains.

The sandakozhi (battle rooster), which is used as a hobby sport by the villagers also makes an appearance in one of his paintings. There is a vibrant painting of an eagle holding on to a snake as its prey, the ferocity in its eyes being clearly evident.

It is village landscapes and temples which have caught the fancy of R. Ragu. The Airavatesvara temple in Darasuram, a town in Kumbakonam is the subject of three of his paintings. There is great attention paid to the different styles of architecture , clearly evident in the detailing.

“I have visited these temples during my college field trips, and was always fascinated by the varying architecture of the temples,” Ragu says. The Virupaksha temple in Hampi and Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur have also been recreated with great attention to detail.

There are green fields, buffaloes, farmers and lakes to add variety. These landscapes give the artist a sense of serenity. “Rural landscapes are easier to paint than temples, and give me much needed relief. There is plenty of greenery in Kumbakonam that we can recreate,” the artist smiles.

It is not just paintings, but also sculptures that are on display. S. Balu has bent sheets of copper metal to create the serene face of Lord Buddha. There is also a lovely sculpture of a lotus, with Buddha meditating inside it. A lotus pond is made completely out of copper wires.

“I have seen plenty of lotus flowers and ponds in Kumbakonam, which is why I decided to make copper metal sculptures of the national flower. Metal sheets were welded together to form the lotus pattern,” Balu explains.

The paintings are for sale and range from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 15,000. The sculptures range from Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 25,000.

The exhibition is on till December 9 from 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.

For details call 0422-2574110.

Art Houz

You see a man with a blank expression on his face, and a few small huts in the background. There is a girl with a similar look on her face, in another painting. The common expression is a sense of isolation with which the villagers live their lives.

According to artist Ashok Chincholi from Gulbarga, it is a mixture of isolation and strange contentment.

“Villagers remain cocooned in their own little world. They know that they can find a better means of living if they move to a city, yet many remain in their villages due to a fear of the unknown,” Ashok explains.

Ordinary village folk and animals are the subjects of his paintings, twelve of which are on display at Art Houz, an art gallery on Avanashi Road.

You catch a painting of a village ceremony, and a big outstretched hand, seemingly blessing the gathering. The hand is that of a village elder, who is normally called on to preside over all functions. Most paintings are in a red background, which is the artist’s favourite colour.

His My Town series portrays the confusion faced by a young boy. The boy is pondering over his future in education. His face is perplexed and there are stacks of books in the background to indicate that confusion. Then there are the animals which are part of village life. There is a horse, a dog and cows in a shed, and their activities sketched on paper.

“It is the simplicity of village life that makes it so fascinating,” Ashok says.

For Narayan .S. Kumbar, it is realistic and abstract paintings that find favour. The My Traditional Series shows Lord Shiva and Parvathi, in a warm embrace and a feeling of serenity. There is a majestic elephant, adorned with jewellery and accessories, moving merrily across the land. But it is the realistic paintings that are the most vivid.

A sadhu, his forehead smeared with ash and wearing a saffron turban, has an intense, mesmeric gaze. In the next painting, the sadhu’s face is obscured by a black background.

“The original sadhus are becoming increasingly hard to find. Very soon, they may not even exist in paintings,” Narayan says.

Narayan has also modernised the image of the Kali Maa. His acrylic on canvas painting has the Goddess in male form, the strong hands displaying enormous strength.

‘Shanthi’ has a man with three heads in a meditative pose. There is a silhouette of Mahatma Gandhi in the background. “The three heads depict the three monkeys of Gandhi, which see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. These principles are more relevant than ever today,” he says.

Paintings of the two artists are also available for sale and range in price between Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 37,000.

The exhibition is on till December 10.

For details call 0422-4335777.