Saint-poet Annamayya, who penned 32,000 compositions on Lord Venkateswara, is stereotyped as holding a small ‘Tanpura’ in hand, bowing before Lord Venkateswara.

Visualising him differently in his mind’s eye, artist Batthala Anand shows Annamayya in new avatars. The painter working at the TTD museum at Tirumala, Anand, is known to the outside world through the ‘Rangoli’ painted at the temple threshold and the ornate carvings on various welcome arches.

As a tribute to Annamacharya, whose death anniversary falls on April 7 (Sunday), Anand started painting him in various forms such as meditating, praying and pondering over a thought (remember the revolutionary song ‘Thandanana Bhala’ in which he flays the social malaise of caste system and untouchability?). In the same vein, Anand depicts him as holding a dappu’ for a folk song, instead of the ‘tanpura’. Like Rama tightening the bow strings, Annamayya tightens his Tanpura string immediately after getting a spark in his mind. As Annamayya is believed to be an incarnation of Venkateswara’s sword ‘Nandakam’, a painting shows him emerging out of the sword.

Anand also employs a variety of techniques to bring uniqueness to every art work. One is a line drawing, while another one is made of straight lines only (no curves anywhere on the canvas). While in one painting, he uses ‘pointillism’, the art of using dots to form an image, in another, he uses hundreds of small and large circles (O) to get a full image. Some are in Kalamkari style, some in Batik and a few in ‘Bapu’ style.

His layout art showing Annamayya bowing before Venkateswara (symbolically shown with a diamond-studded crown and Namam-Sankhu-Chakra) is out in the market without his knowledge, raking in the moolah for photo-makers. “I don’t know how it went out. The Lord drafted me for the holy purpose. I take it only that way,” a humility-personified Anand told The Hindu . Having finished 70 paintings so far, Anand plans to touch the magic number of 108 by the next death anniversary, i.e., April 2014.

As a tribute to the saint-poet, Batthala Anand shows him in different postures