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Back with passion

Renowned artist B.A. Reddy has dedicated his time and talent to make artists out of rural children. His efforts are paying off as his wards bring in international laurels. Even his recent paintings - done after a decade - reflect his commitmentto them.

`Of Serfdom' acrylic on paper

AFTER TAKING a sabbatical for over 12 years B.A. Reddy comes back with his paintings making a slight shift in his oeuvre. Reddy has been well known as an artist for whom his art is an `outright' medium of expression - coarse and brutal - his tool to combat his helplessness and frustrations at the social inequalities, atrocities against women and the rampant injustice everywhere. The candid works of human misery, unsettling and disturbing became Reddy's trademark and comparisons were made to Chitta Prasad and Kathe Koltwiz. Over the years, due to health reasons and the inability to sustain the pressures of his own psyche, the hypersensitive and high strung artist ventured into the cause closest to his heart -- the world of children and to work with them. His efforts to bring out the latent talent of children especially rural children and the less fortunate to provide them a platform to work with their urban counterparts, empower them and help them know their interests, realise their potentials and choose a career of their choice proved to be a boon for hundreds of children putting the country's name on the world map in the field of children's art.

His recent exhibition at the Telugu University is characteristic of his involvement with children - the influence of their cheerfulness and gay abandon on one hand and his limitations to move away from the proximity of his own mooring as a socially conscious individual, unable to come to terms with the atrocities and injustice on the other. That Reddy is consciously trying to move away from the social concerns is evident. Yet there is the old Reddy in the paintings, `care for the decrepit', `me too helpless', `of serfdom', `companions' `the trapped ones', `absolutely helpless', and `we two identical' that document his grief and pain, at the plight of humans and animals alike.

`Karteeka Deepalu,' acrylic on paper

Then there is also the new Reddy with a new set of work emitting child-like innocence and freshness using idioms as cute little butterflies and fishes, swapping his old melancholic palette with a new bright one in the delightful little works like `Stree', `karteeka deepalu', `an ode to a cow' `Vanitalu' and `of birds and kites' which are representative of his rural background and his association with children for over 30 years.

B.A. Reddy has been an advocate of children's art and steadfastly worked in this area involving thousands of them across the world and more importantly hundreds of children at `Sanskriti' - the art centre for rural children that was founded by him in Ranga Reddy District about a decade ago. It is here children of potters, carpenters, curd sellers, farm labourers and masons, from over ten villages converge on holidays and Sundays to give vent to their creativity. Making a mark at international levels. The children regularly win prizes from Japan, Korea, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Skopjee, Slovakia, Russia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rome and several other countries. Sanskriti has on several occasions been adjudged as the best art institution of the world.


In recognition of his work in the field of children's art, Reddy has been awarded the Soviet Land Nehru Award, `The Order of Smile', from Poland. The National Award for teachers, Diplomas of Honor from several countries and several heads of countries. A recipient of numerous awards as an artist and an art educator, including the Junior and Senior Fellowships of the Government of India, B. Appi Reddy who learnt painting, doing little jobs for his teacher in lieu of the fees he could not pay, is most happiest working with colours and in the company of his rural children at `Sanskriti' where art is not treated as a commodity but as the purest form of expression.


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