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Evocative Expressions

A. Rajeswara Rao's painting exhibition `The Threshold' is a rare visual treat

A. RAJESWARA RAO'S small format exhibition, titled `The Threshold', which is on at the Alankritha Art Gallery, Jubilee Hills, articulates far more succinctly, what the painter portrays in his large format works. His recent works, elements from the large format, which, are further magnified, on a small format lead us to `The Threshold'. In this case it becomes essential to understand Rao's large formats first, as these are the `gateway' to his thematic concerns of a `sublime and spiritual' journey which he began observing in and around his environment for more than a couple of years now. The mythic mystique infused in the form of the female deity has undoubtedly fascinated his audiences. And what surrounds her in the form of popular imagery be it kitsch or cultural, the spectator's stopover is a radiant rhetoric that display the awe and emotion of people who create their very customary installations of faith and spirituality.

And Rao upon his turn internalises the drama to recreate this deep-rooted emotion that is surrounded by fanfare. Says the artist, "For the last couple of years I have been inspired by the presence of local deities in little temples in the small villages of Telengana. The theme has taken me into various spheres of bewilderment, emotion, sentiment, spirituality and artistic mobility. It is during this period that I have experienced a sublimity - evocative of spirituality on one hand and a very mobile artistic experience, on another."

Indeed the "sublimity - evocative of spirituality" guides him further to inspect the idioms of devotion that surround the focal subject of his painting - the deity. That is when `The Threshold' of a new introspection of his abstract journey begins.

Well, it would be fundamentally incorrect to term the small format series as abstract, as Rao takes chances to burst out his figurations, here and there. But he does have a point when he mentions the abstract, - as this series gives him the freedom to work texturally while he gets closer to the abstract concept of transforming textures into spiritual experiences.

"On the threshold of one artistic venture, I was guided to delve into another, a more abstract and sublime sphere and compelled by an urge to work alongside the large works." Executing an entire narration the painter is guided into utterances, which are abstract explorations that help the artist to relate to the divine emotions of various objects/elements that are applied to venerate the `devi'.

The abstract explorations are rapturous activity as Rao by now has mastered the art of controlling his medium of not just applying acrylic on acrylic sheets but watercolours on mount boards. In fact the delight for the spectator lies in finding a parallel in the transparency he is able to execute in these two totally different mediums.

The objects such as sacrificial animals, trees, colours, coins and motorbikes are compulsive eruptions in his works as these are dexterously blended in the abstract explorations, the artist indulges in.

"It is from this `threshold' of figuration that I have been able to travel into another territory and have discovered the pleasures of abstraction. In the process of uninhabited application of medium and concept, the abstraction not withstanding, I was able to retain the spirit of my concept - the awesome power of the small rural deities, their influence on the rural folk and their strength to draw the human resource to them on all occasions."

The small formats sans the focal subject evoke or lead us on the familiar journey of `sublimity and spirituality'. Therefore, the issue of figuration or abstraction is judiciously integrated and forays in and out of the picture frame.

The conceptual or the free play of Rao's painting methodology reaches a crescendo this time round as he retains his preoccupations and continues upon a new journey. The exhibition can be viewed until December 15 between 11 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.


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