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Blooming expressions

The art exhibition at Apparao Galleries captures the mystical and mythological beauty of the lotus

RICH IN meaning and metaphor and accorded the status of a national flower, the lotus is representative of divinity, purity, fertility, wealth, knowledge and enlightenment. It is a mark of beauty, grace and total detachment from worldly qualities.

According to Hindu mythology, the lotus is symbolic of creation, since Brahma, the Creator, emanated from the lotus that blooms from the navel of Vishnu. The numerous petals of the mythical lotus may be allegorically understood to denote layers of human personality, the petals opening as the individual approaches self-realisation. The centre of the lotus consequently stands for release from earthly bondage and everlasting life.

Representing all the forces of Nature, the lotus lives in the four elements, its roots in the soil, its stem in water, its blossoms in the air and the sunlight, thus constituting earth, water, air and fire. Rising above the realm of muddy waters, the flower is complete in itself, detached from impurity, serene and unparalleled in beauty.

In an exhibition, `Tamarai Nilam: The Land of Lotus,' artists P. G. Dinesh, Maya Burman, Muralidharan, Nikhil Ranjan Pal, Priyanka Bharadwaj, Senaka Senanayake, Siddharth, A.Selvaraj, Srinivasachari and Thotta Tharani among others have paid homage to the lotus in different materials and media.

In distinctly different idioms each artist explores the flower. Where Siddharth uses solid colour and delicate lines to balance the richness of tempera on silk even as he alludes to the delicacy of the bloom, Muralidharan's mixed media works emphasise the substance of mythology. Intricacies of line seem to propose the intricacies of meaning woven around the flower. This is suggested in the work of Maya Burman whose attentive strokes of the pen are tinted by coloured wash, and in the meticulous graphite drawings of Nikhil Pal.

The three-dimensional boxed paintings of Dinesh create readings and associations that are reworked and re-read, drawing from previous modes of representation. Kitsch imagery in fluorescent colours is cleverly integrated in a white ground, thus underplaying the vivid intensity of colour. Here visual oxymorons abound, as may be observed in the cherub firing a pistol alongside a gun-toting god of love, Krishna. On the other hand, contrasting aspects drawing reference to the philosophical projection of the purusha-mandala and its relation to the lotus form are portrayed in Srinivasachari's paintings.

Priyanka's works in monochrome and colour recall the dispassionate technicalities of botanical drawings, providing a macro view of a diminutive slice of Nature. Conversely Thotta Tharani's watercolours appeal directly to one's heart, sensuously confining the fleeting moment of lotus blossoms caught in a breeze. Working to a single theme, each artist's characteristic interpretation discreetly communicates the multiplicity of individual experiences, ideas and philosophies.

The works are on show until April 7 at Apparao Galleries, Wallace Gardens, 3rd Street, Nungambakkam.


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