In pursuit of abstraction
IT'S A frame where everything is meticulously planned, nay ordained. In a canvas crammed with activity, nothing is left to chance. The background is broken up into panels, sometimes into geometric shapes and with painstaking effort the figures are allowed to assume shape, each of them imbued with a delicate feeling for detail.
The focus as in all the works is on symmetry and regularity. As parts of the central figure get lost beneath the burden of patterns and colours, the artist celebrates in his passionate affirmation of nature. C.N. Karunakaran is a man obsessed with his art. And those who benefit most from his obsession are the viewers who never miss the opportunity to check out his works. On display at Chitram Art Gallery on M.G. Road was the artist's latest collection.
Even as he rues the loss of his picture consignment that never made it to Brazil, Karunakaran is on a high. "I want to achieve abstraction and I know I'm coming there," he says. It's a traditional pictorial idiom that he harbours, but insists that he is not on track to pursue revivalism.
Having travelled extensively within India his commitment to heritage is supreme. Very logically it gets conveyed in his work.
His line drawing is perfect, spontaneous but hovers on the verge of getting stylised, sometimes lyrical. The principal Madonna is bedecked and as she sits on her haunches, the ornate designs of her dress get revealed.
Nonchalantly she confers with the birds and animals as the latter take on fanciful, interesting shapes.
They emerge from the corners of the canvas, sometimes lurking in the shadows, to be glimpsed behind a panel. Their manes lash about like tongues of fire but find restraint in the dainty flowers that have been weaved into the hair. Large menacing teeth and cavernous mouths spewing fire fail to intimidate, as they look more decorative than daunting.
Even the foliage sways and moves towards the main persona. The stems are dyed from the master painter's multi-hued palette. No shade, no hue, plays favourite.
The smallest of the buds have received due attention from the artist so that not a leaf is out of place. Nature is in dance.
A large canvas depicting Ganeshas stands testimony to Karunakaran's ability to experiment with colour and application of paint.
The artist skilfully gives a feel of weightlessness to his pot-bellied Gods as each dance in its assigned place. Not once does he stray from his commitment to symmetry. Here too, it is very much in place.
The exhibition, which concluded on October 5, was conducted under the aegis of the Scarlet Creative Group. The group organises seminars, lectures, workshops and exhibitions of paintings and sculptures on a regular basis.
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