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Sutra, the string of life

Lakshmi Srinath's "Sutra" reflects her fascination for pure colour. A preview of the show to be held in London later this year

Lakshmi Srinath.

"To begin with I was just interested in the texture and colour of the thread. I noticed that threads form a very intimate part of our daily life," explains Lakshmi Srinath. "It's only much later that I found the connection between the threads that I have used in my paintings and of the deeper spiritual meaning that they contain."

In an earlier group show, Srinath's striking compositions stood out for their stunning use of the colours of the earth — red, yellow, white and black — and her almost tactile sense of rendering the threads that we see around us, wound around the trunks of trees, to water-pots, around the body, just at the neck or wrist. It was the interplay between the most ordinary of everyday objects, a hank of thread, or coloured string and the mysterious power suggested by the way the threads bind, connect, twist and carry the burden of our lives that fascinated her. Till that time, Srinath had been deeply interested in handlooms and embroidery as a designer of clothes. This had led her to pursue her early interest in painting further under the guidance of A. V. Ilango and a small group of amateur artists. As she describes it, it was under his patient encouragement that she was able to find her own strength as an artist.

Lakshmi Srinath's works on display at the Forum Art Gallery. PHOTO: VINO JOHN

The current show is a real coming of age for Srinath. She shows that her fascination for the threads of life has led her to explore the richness of pure colour as she finds it in the very many examples she happens to notice, spilt for instance on the dark stone floor of a temple, that then becomes in Srinath's hands a mandala-shaped wooden table, that can be seen from the top, or the votary offerings placed under trees or wayside shrines. Her eye as an artist leads her to see and translate the rich language of colour that appears on the walls of our streets and temples, in red and white stripes, in bands of yellow, in triangular indentations, in circular spots, or dots placed with random precision in an abstract pattern of meaning. She is rooted in tradition and yet has been able to translate it into a highly sensitive and arresting language of self-expression.

Srinath's show, "Sutra" will travel to London later this year where it will be shown at the Nehru Centre. A preview of the show will be held at the Forum Art Gallery from tomorrow, April 20 to April 22, between 10 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.


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