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Eloquent strokes

Suresh Jayaraman's exhibition of paintings that concludes today at the Apparao Galleries, is inspired by the relationship between man and Nature.

SURESH JAYARAM'S exhibition of paintings at Apparao Galleries, which concludes today, reveals an almost child-like curiosity to dissect Nature and re-contextualise the fragments of his findings. Artist and art historian by profession, he is head of the Department of Art History at Chitrakala Parishad, Bangalore.

Talking of his grounding in art criticism during his postgraduate years at Baroda, Suresh says, "It made me more articulate and created a consciousness of history. The difference involved moving from a provincial space such as Bangalore to an artistic and intellectual space like Baroda."

Suresh works in various media with a wide repertoire, including painting, photography and installation art. He also designs posters to promote awareness of the environment and human rights. He believes "artists should extend their work to help society rather than painting merely for exhibiting in galleries. It would be healthy to adopt a multifaceted approach for, when artists are socially conscious, their work will reflect it; yet one cannot be overly ambitious and aspire to address global issues incessantly, for then one might as well be a politician. The artist needs to work within the parameters of art and consequently stimulate thought. He is not a craftsman, he is an intellectual and an individual who speaks through his works, which form the platform of expression for his thoughts."

The early years of abstraction have been transcended with the focus of Suresh's paintings, currently transferred to his immediate surroundings, his city Bangalore. His work is an identification of his geographical space, yet it is not landscape for he merely employs `the city' as inspiration. He tries to create a visual dynamic with the idea of the city of Bangalore, its colonial past and its current capitalist cosmopolitan space.

"I am conscious of Bangalore's environment and by the same token my concerns are related to myself and the space around me, in mapping my space, my surroundings. My thoughts are primarily rooted to the lungs of the city, which are the artificially created spaces that define Bangalore and its identity as the `garden city.' A visit to the park may be attuned to a comma in one's life. These parks and gardens also mirror the occupations of my ancestors as farmers and landowners seen from the perspective of visual culture."

The brilliant colours are inspired by Nature with textures assuming importance in the guise of organic fragments that become virtual botanical studies. This is his way of trying to heal the rupture between man and Nature. Yet Suresh's paintings are not completely confined to the theme of the urban park. Some works speak from the mind of the art historian and the heart of the artist.

`East West Encounter' dwells on his fascination with the passion of Van Gogh as an artist but harks back to the inspiration and influence of Japanese prints in his works. The introduction of origami-inspired flowers that take the form of the costumes created by the contemporary Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake seem to compensate for the borrowings of Van Gogh.

Quoting Miyake's forms, which are the ideal metaphor of man and Nature coming together, Suresh feels "the idea of `quotation' is popular in today's milieu when homage to great artists illustrates the involvement of art history. Knowledge of art history becomes part of the language, a historical reference that is no longer viewed as `copying' an image but rather as borrowing or appropriating from a reference point, re-working or re-interpreting an idea. They are in effect diverse elements forced together, coexisting together."

He has not `quoted' Indian artists for he feels they are already part of the same visual language and such borrowings bereft of contemporary relevance could easily resemble a pastiche of the past. With the integration of one's world experience into their works, younger Indian artists are becoming more global in their visualisation. No longer are we conscious of ourselves just as Indians but as global citizens, for, we live in many cultures simultaneously and speak a polyphonic language.


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