Art Artist K. Laxma Goud is determined to never let anything come between his canvas and the connoisseur. SHAILAJA TRIPATHI

K. Laxma Goud isn't only skilled at portraying the navrasas in his visual masterpieces, the artist brings out these emotions vividly even otherwise. One moment, if he is a little disappointed at often being asked about the aroused goat and the naked woman then, the other, he is joyous and makes a small sketch for you. In a free-wheeling chat, the senior artist talks about his motivation, ideas and influences. His ongoing exhibition, ‘I want to seduce them with my line' at Art Alive Gallery in New Delhi, showcasing 75 art works, were produced over five decades. ‘The Art of K. Laxma Goud' by Susan S. Bean, curator of South Asian Art at The Peabody Essex Museum, United States, was also released on the inaugural day.

Rural life that thrives in my art

I am rooted not uprooted. I have internalised that life because I live it. I am what I am. A lot of people ask me why do you paint rural life but it's not foreign to me. A visitor asked why do you paint goats and why this element of eroticism…I say there can be a flower or any other object instead…goats, rural life, erotica…that's the viewer's pre-occupation not mine. Why aren't people bothered about the economy of lines, how I manipulate my pictorial space and negotiate the pictorial devices in it? Look at the austerity and the sereneness in it. My art is very simple, down-to-earth and there is no myth involved. People who see only elements of it and not view it wholly, I believe, are looking at everything very superficially.

Traversing various mediums

As an artist, I am more fascinated by the use of material, the process involved and what's happening in the world in the new movement of art. For several years, I kept on drawing and then I found printmaking and etching. I was a non-collegiate student at M.S. University in Baroda and there K.G. Subramanyan suggested that I try out printmaking. I also learnt mural painting and sandcasting. I realised that artists practising art forms which are very indigenous in their character have their social functions and an economic angle to it as well. He wanted me to question art and intellect in today's context. This is how I have grown. So, I am finding my own way. I worked with paper and I still do. I still make prints and I still work with ink, colour pencils, watercolours. Around five-six years ago, I began working with terracotta because I found the clay very fascinating. I use handmade rice paper and use a traditional method of pasting it. It has always attracted me to look back.

The journey

We talk of Van Gogh. Do you think we could sell in the 60s? I used to give my works to people for free and even then they wouldn't take it. Now, people look for my prints but they aren't available easily. To have a meal, we would walk for hours. Painting didn't get you money those days but I somehow got a job with Doordarshan as graphics designer.

An intimate space

I try to create an intimate atmosphere for the viewer which is why I work in miniature format and do so many small works. The revivalist group of Bengal decided to give up easel and I really like it. When you see folk artists working in such indigenous manner, bent over their drawing, it's different dynamics at play. It's like a virgin space.