Art Sankar S charts a colourful route to save the green

Artist Sankar S has always felt strongly about the environment, particularly trees. “Everyday you get to see the atrocities committed on trees,” he says. For past two decades he has tried to depict this through his work. He also sends out a social message and hopes that it will contribute in salvaging the planet from its present perilous state.

In his latest Vriksha — A Saga of Trees at the Vennirul Art Gallery, Sankar has gone beyond painting, drawing and sketching trees. This time he has also displayed photographs, video-art and installations. It has been more than 20 years since Sankar first ventured into painting trees. His paintings portray trees with exposed roots and branches stretching out in various directions as though gasping for fresh air. In order to acquire the desired emotion he uses different mediums. This is best shown in a series of paintings limning a weak tree with gentle strokes of water colour, being asphyxiated by a dark robust tree painted with furious strokes of pastels, oil paint and sometimes digital prints. This theme of two trees intertwined —one helpless and the other merciless is a popular depiction in the Vriksha series.

With maturity comes confidence. Sankar does not seem to have any inhibitions and does not restrain himself to orthodox mediums. If traditional pencils and charcoal are unable to express a particular feeling, he does not hesitate to use soot or even sand in his work. What sets this exhibition apart from his previous works is the addition of photographs. Sankar dabbled in photography from the time he started painting and sketching but this is the first time that he has displayed the photographs. These sets of photographs follow a string of thought and appear to recount a story. He has also designed a couple of installations that have saplings under a white net. “We put a protective cover over a tree but the tree grows and we forget to remove it. I want to show the torture the tree undergoes when its growth is constrained by these overbearing nets,” explains Sankar.

The exhibition is on at the Vennirul Art Gallery, C. P. Art Centre, Alwarpet till February 25.