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Stage is my canvas, my movements the brushstrokes: Malavika Sarukkai

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Malavika Sarukkai
Malavika Sarukkai

Staff Reporter

The performance has been conceptualised by a dancer and a historian

It is a two-day event being held at the NGMA

Bangalore: Three years after their collaborative project that explored Chola bronzes, Bharatanatyam dancer Malavika Sarukkai and art historian B.N. Goswamy are back to offer an interpretation of two great Indian texts, the Ramayana and the Bhagavata Purana.

“Exploring Great Texts”, a two-day event being held at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) here, presents over a hundred 18th century miniatures, each a frozen moment in the narrative of the texts, which will be interpreted by the noted art historian. This will be followed by a dance rendition that will bring the paintings to life on stage.

Collaboration

A collaborative performance conceptualised by a classic dancer and an art historian would seem like a distinctly unique exercise. But for Ms. Sarukkai and Prof. Goswamy, this is “an act of recovery” of the original context in which the arts were viewed; not in isolation but in connection with each other.“It is a recovery moreover of our own sensibilities which have been so dulled by the dust of time,” Prof. Goswamy explained. Ms. Sarukkai agreed: “We are now so desensitised; the sense of wonder is something we need.”

“How does the painter see the text?” is the question Prof. Goswamy wanted to explore.

The painter has clearly “entered the spirit of the text” in his miniatures, he said, drawing our attention to one depicting the just-exiled Rama, Laxmana and Sita crossing a river on a boat.

The trio appear minuscule, “each no bigger than my fingernail”, on a sliver of a boat in the painting that is occupied mostly by the river. “The river here clearly symbolises uncharted waters.”

For Ms. Sarukkai, there is a deep connection in the processes of creating all art, whether dance or painting, “in the choice of colour and light, in the movement and use of space”.

She adds: “To me the canvas is my stage. And when I dance I paint it. I colour it.” Art is a “deeply thought, internalised process”.

The concluding part of the event will be held on Friday between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the NGMA auditorium, 49, Palace Road. The event is organised by Mahua Art Foundation in collaboration with NGMA.

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