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Brush with the divine

Mythology and nature are intertwined in Sarla Chandra's works which are mounted at `also'.

GODDESS FLOWS: Trytych on Ganga.- Photos: K.Ramesh Babu.

RELIGION AND mythology have influenced art and artists. And Sarla Chandra's paintings only confirm that. As one walks down the exhibition of works mounted at `also' (White House building, Begumpet) it is also a walk down Hindu mythology and the pantheon of Gods depicted in contemporary ways.

The exhibition titled `Shiva's Abode' also includes works of her other series' on Ganesha, Hanuman, Ganga and Lakshmi. The gods are painted against the natural backdrop with a predominance of blue and green - the colours of nature - water and trees which fascinate and inspire Sarla.

Sarla, who spent quite some years in Hyderabad, in fact took up painting here in the late Sixties. Nature and the reverence shown to the gods always intrigued her. A self-taught artist, whose creativity manifested on to the canvas in the form of her expressions, she started reading on mythology and legend to give her a good insight into ancient lore. And this reading only accentuated her passion for painting.

Ganesha is one of the most adorable Gods. Today he occupies a pride of place not just in puja rooms but in living rooms of houses. Sarla's paintings depict him in his `zoomorphic' form. Large ears and a body slightly slanting occupy the centrestage of most paintings - where Ganesha is portrayed in isolation or with his parents. The figure cannot be missed. A few works encrusted with gold foil from her earlier series too figure in this exhibition. They are more in line with drawing room art which is lapped up by many.

RESPLENDENT GLORY: Ganesha in gold foil.

Ganga is another goddess which takes up a lot of canvas space. Depicted in her natural glory with the loose locks portraying waves, she could even be taken to be a woman. But she is a goddess who flows - and Sarla's brushes pulsate the flow. A trip to Badrinath stimulated the `triptych' displayed.

Shiva as ardhanareeshvara in a modern format or in a yogic meditative posture (akin to a man) portrayed against darkness is another theme painted in bright hues.One notable aspect of Sarla's paintings is that the eyes of the gods and goddesses are shut.

PAINTER OF LORE: Sarla Chandra.

"This comes from my mind and the hand flows unconsciously. I have to go inside to seek my inspiration. I don't like giving shape to the eyes," she says justifying the closed eyes.

A common leitmotif is the lotus which creeps into all the works. The lotus is a primordial flower which figures in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The lotus is resplendent - in all its colourful glory in Sarla's works. Trees and shrubs too creep into the works.

SISTERLY BONDS: Ganga and Yamuna.

The portrayals of the gods are more `anthropomorphic'. Sarla imparts an energy to the paintings which stems from a compulsive inner urge to paint. "Painting is like poetry which flows like a stream," she says. And this flow is bound to continue unebbed. The exhibition is on till June 15 (excepting Sundays).


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