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Breathing life into metal

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA
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ART Recollections Reconnections showcases works of renowned artist S.G. Vasudev spanning over two decades

A rtist S.G. Vasudev is known for his copper relief art and a look at his exhibition “Recollections Reconnections” at Kynkyny's art gallery will probably tell you why.

The exhibition hosts relief works from the nineties till the present. It includes some works from the “Tree of Life” series, one of his earliest. The “Tree of Life” is filled with motifs — monkeys, birds, fish, men, and woman, and many more that appear as though from a portal between heaven and earth. Everything revolves around the tree of life, so obviously magical and vibrant.

The tree continues to make an appearance in “Earthscape”, where there is a tree and there are people beneath it. On the other side there are two hillocks, with more men on it. They are patterned alternatively with bead-like textures and lines. More dots, as stars occupy the sky above.

“Tree of Life' happened in early 70's.The philosophy of ‘Tree of Life' inspired me. It is the source of inspiration to artists. The tree is worshipped in India for sexuality, protection, etc. At the same time, as an artist, I could work out my spaces like horizontal, vertical, squares etc. I am essentially a painter of ‘Fantasy', it is the breadth of my style. Kannada literature and particularly Kannada poetry and theatre have influenced my thinking,” says Vasudev.

The exhibition also features the series, “Maithuna” that he worked on after “Tree of Life' in the seventies. “‘Maithuna: the act of love', was initially inspired by the sculptures of Khajuraho and Kamasutra and various love/romantic poems. Here Maithuna is not only between human beings, they are also between birds, animals, sky and earth, Sun and the moon etc.”

His more recent “Rhapsody” series, on the other hand is quiet different, though some motifs, of the men continue. “Rhapsody” is full of flowing lines, sometimes carrying people with arms spread out, sometimes carrying trees, sometimes becoming hills or turning into a pair of hands holding life in its cupped hands. Throughout, a sense of joy and freedom accompanies the flow.

The sun-god “Surya” also makes an appearance, shining atop a hill. On the other side, the “He” series, of moustached men in their textured shirts makes its way along the walls of the gallery, interspersed with some more “Rhapsody”. “The work ‘He' does not represent any one in particular, but are perhaps inspired by the TV channels where most of the news readers look similar. In theatre, we have to remove layers and layers from the face to know the person and the same in real life. ‘Rhapsody' is the result of my inspiration from music. I love music: Carnatic, Hindustani and Western. I listen to music all the time, particularly while doing my work.”

That line ends with “Mountain” taking the place of “The Tree of Life” in supporting life with its magical motifs that make the viewer feel like he has stepped into the fantastically innocent world of nursery rhymes. His copper relief works also contain the same ease as well as complexity in the abstract motifs of Vasudev's other works

“I learnt the medium from a traditional craftsman who used to do Tanjore plates, temple doors and gopurams. When we started Cholamandal Artists' Village, we experimented with various crafts to make a living, since it was very difficult to survive on art work. So we got this craftsman to come and teach us copper relief. I immediately felt that this is a good medium for me as it suits my style of work and go well with the style of my drawing,” he adds.

“Recollections Reconnections” will be on view at Kynkyny Art, Embassy Square, Infantry Road until December 3. For more details, contact 40926202.

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA

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