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Moods, moments

M. Balasubramanian's water colours take us back in time to the Chola period when art and architecture flourished

M. Balasubramanian's water colour

AS A student of the Government College of Fine Arts, Kumbakonam, M. Balasubramanian had often visited the temples at Patteeswaram and Darasuram and done sketches. The murals in those temples of his native land have been a source of inspiration to him. In the exhibition of his water colour paintings at the Lalit Kala Akademi, it seems as if the characters from the temple murals are strolling around the temples and the villages, witnessing the events taking place there.

Two male characters, with the typical head gear of yore, are seen standing at various places in the Patteeswaram temple precincts, admiring the architecture or watching the various functions that are in progress. In some paintings, a man in royal attire and wearing a crown takes the place of the twosome. In a few others, all the three are seen.

Village shrine

Another frequent subject is the village shrine, with a set of female deities with several tridents stuck around them. Some show the male couple from the murals at the shrine, while others depict a couple of female characters worshipping there. The scene, according to Balasubramanian, is about a particular ritual conducted by women at night. The women in these works are attired in garments that were characteristic of rural Tamil Nadu in ancient times. Many of the paintings appear similar, except for small variations.

The artist says the characters in the works convey not only his own moods but also several unforgettable happenings that took place in his youth, but there are no hidden meanings or symbolism. He also claims that his works depict many things that he wishes should have happened or that he should have done. But how these should have been accomplished is not evident.

Evanescent images

While some of the figures resemble the murals of the Chola period of the 10th Century many resemble those of a much later period, that of the Marathas. Though the faces are shown mostly in profile, the eyes are placed frontally as in leather puppets. In a few images, the way the mouth is drawn appears as if a ball is stuck in the opening. The figures are often casually drawn, appearing somewhat evanescent, and lacking "body". Some of the imagery have bright earth-red tones, whereas others appear faded. The artist could have allowed his imagination to dwell on what the murals might have looked like in the ancient days, instead taking them as they appear today — faded and dull.

Balasubramanian holds an M.F.A. in Visual Communication from the College of Fine Arts, Chennai and an MA from the Annamalai University, besides a Higher Grade Certificate in Model Drawing and a Technical Teacher's Certificate. He has won a few awards for art. The exhibition of his works is on till September 29, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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