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Flowing lines

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA
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Art The lines are fluid, and as they transform they assume new meanings for A.V. Ilango

A. V. Ilango's “Line and Layam” transports the viewer to the primordial, where creation, preservation and destruction happen simultaneously. At the same time, his works have a sense of movement that seems so vivid and real.

Starting with “Utsav II”, a dry pastel and ink work of rural folk dancers, “Charging” an acrylic work of a bull head down and geared up to race ahead and “Jallikattu II”, the bull is a recurrent theme in his artwork. Since “Line and Layam” consists of artworks from across many series, there are works on the passion between a man and a woman in “Rhythm”, in series like “Ecstasy”, and “Layam”. He has painted folk musicians and performers in series like “The Parai”, “Melam” and “Utsav”. The same sense of rustic movement and passion continues in the mythological series “Raas Leela” and “Krishna”.

The words “parai” and “melam” refer to drums in Tamil. The undercurrent running through all of Ilango's works is rural Tamil Nadu, specifically, Gopichettypalayam in the Madurai district, from where he hails. “My works are rustic and folk-based, because I come from a small town. But the rendering of my works is contemporary because I live in the now,” says Ilango.

And so it is. His forms are never impressionistic, they never manifest fully. They're always fluid, moving where their lines take them. There is also a lot of space around them, filled with colour — mainly shades of yellow, orange, red, blue or white.

These colours evoke their setting and mood quite beautifully. In fact, his hazy “contemporary” lines and forms are what draw the viewer into his works. They emphasise their movement and their driving force, more than the forms themselves.

“I have worked on a few themes over the past 30 years. The works in this exhibition are based on my journey as an artist. The lines are the crucial elements in my art. When a line sits, it becomes a bull, when it is seductive it becomes a woman and when it moves, it becomes dance. When you see my work, there is movement and there is a shift in the visual energy. It moves from negative to positive and negative again.”

By that, he means that his forms disappear, appear and re-appear again and are never quite fully there. According to him, it is this movement of his forms that causes the “visual energy shift”. This movement is quite obvious in works like “Agitated” where his curved brushstrokes and his muddy colours convey the disturbance quite simply and “Layam-II” where the movement is highlighted by the man's flying hair. But the man, his partner and his surroundings are in a deep, undisturbed calm conveyed by their demeanour and the velvety background.

“Line and Layam” will be on view at Gallery Time and Space, Lavelle Road, until November 9. Call 22124117 for details.

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA

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