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Threads of creativity

`Moods and Revelations' brings to the fore the artistic talent of a group of women

`MOODS AND Revelations' is an exhibition of paintings that showcases the works of a talented group of women artists under the banner Amarantos (Greek for `not fading'). An eclectic ensemble under the tutelage of renowned artist A.V. Ilango, this association of artists currently comprises Kavitha Prasad, Lakshmi Srinath, Reena Kochar, Swapna Reddy and Thejo Menon.

Developing from numerous realistic in-depth life studies of flowers and then evolving into spontaneous reactions to them, Kavitha Prasad's watercolours are ethereal and translucent. Meditative pastel colours on paper capture an entrancing impression of floating fluid forms that thoroughly exploit the medium, the dreamlike magnifications of the diaphanous flora emanating a tantalising elegance.

While Kavitha's expressions are defined by an otherworldly charm, Lakshmi Srinath's theme, on the other hand, is grounded in everyday reality. Sequentially progressing from her earlier paintings of temple precincts, Lakshmi's `Cord' series exudes South Indian sensibility. Ropes, cords, threads and strings take several manifestations and are utilised in varied instances from the coarse coir rope used in securing cattle to the refined and revered mangalyam. The jasmine buds bound together with thread are integral to propitious rituals.

These cords that bind are prevalent at every level of our lives assuming various forms and colours and enlisting meaning, be it auspicious or mundanely functional. The symbolism of the colours may be variously interpreted as the yellow derived from turmeric relating to its disinfecting properties and thus indicating purity, the sacred and the auspicious. Yet in Lakshmi's works, it is an aesthetic and not the meaning that forms the objective, purely suggestive of the daily rituals that are followed unthinkingly, most often bereft of meaning.

Threads that shape the tapestry of life are woven together with human interaction, clearly envisioned in Reena Kochar's series based on relationships. In her telling portraits of connections, symbols help spell out and stress upon the links that are essential to our existence. The bond between mother and child is emphasised in the cross-section of the flower, itself symbolic of the womb. Life forms surround the father and child, revealing the varied dimensions their connectivity takes, while ears and a circuit board linking a group of female figures represent the need for human interaction. Espousing a flat decorative quality, the muted colours are emphasised by the decorative symbols.

A different kind of symbolism is evident in the paintings of Swapna Reddy whose Homa Kundan series is influenced by the underlying symbolism in ancient Indian texts and Vedanta relating to time and space. Her heavily textured simplification of the universe into shapes, colours and design reflects its dual nature, comprising energy and rest, the geometric and organic, the male and female, positive and negative. Here, simplification is suggestive of the elimination of the complexities of daily living, moving away from the extraneous and proceeding towards knowledge of the Self.

As responses to the performing arts Theyyam and Kathakali, Thejo Menon's bold colours and forms dominate her paintings. The evocative colours speak of the richness of the performing art form, where forceful gestures create strong moods. The performers in costume don masks and yet are living human forms, leading ordinary lives. Where previously Thejo's works spoke of simplified motifs, her works now incorporate suggestive details, sometimes including what is almost a narrative, in keeping with the inherently eloquent tradition of the performing art form that she seeks to depict.

In the works of these artists varied influences and dispositions have undeniably joined together to create revelations, attesting the words of R.W. Emerson, `life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-coloured lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.' The exhibition is on at the Lakshana Art Gallery, 38, Maharaja Surya Rao Road, behind Venus Colony, Alwarpet, from today till October 4.


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