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Visual aesthetics anyone?

Broad strokes The multi-hued group.   | Photo Credit: Sudarshan V.

At 11 a.m., the ceramics workshop at the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai, is well under way. Arun Mukhuty, master ceramics artist from Delhi is conducting the three-day activity, and on day two, the student output is impressive. They have learnt to shape the clay, fire it, and give it a chemical treatment to get coloured patterns on the surface. The clay articles range from a simple coffee-table plate to a complicated sculpture of sprinting horses. Ceramics is one of the subjects in the popular visual arts course.

“Founder Rukmini Devi had said Kalakshetra was created ‘in order that India may once again revive and develop its ancient culture and set a standard of true Art in its new life after freedom’, and the unique visual arts course evolved to stay true to that aim,” says artist Lakshmi Krishnaswamy, who is in-charge of the department. “The syllabus is designed to educate the students to enjoy, explore and interpret this legacy, of its gradual evolution into a repository of techniques nurtured and modified by different dynasties and eras.” It is an intensive four-year course with the option of a one-year certificate course. The course is designed to give an over-view of many aspects of art.


“Students of this course can opt for jobs in the animation industry,” says Priyadarsini Govind, Director, Kalakshetra Foundation. She recommends that they study further for a master’s course in fine arts offered by colleges outside. “Two of our students are in Shantiniketan, for a master’s degree in fine arts. Two others have joined the Chitra Kala Parishad for higher studies.”

An academic committee including music/dance faculty discussed the courses and Palaniappan of Lalit Kala Academy formulated the final syllabus. The course includes regular classes, residency, three workshops, six to seven lec-dems, field trips, art exhibitions, and several such exposures. The campus interaction with other students opens up opportunities to learn history and heritage. “We have excellent faculty and programmes. And I don’t have to emphasise the great ambiance that the Kalakshetra campus offers,” says Priyadarsini Govind.

External examiners are invited for the two semester exams and the students put up a display of their art work for assessment as well as during Kalakshetra festivals, and art exhibitions.


Must have completed Class XII, in the age-group of 16-25. Age is no bar for those who wish to do the one-year diploma course. Apart from pass marks in Class XII, admission criteria includes some aptitude for art, inherent skill, and to the extent possible, flair — or at least interest — for drawing and painting.

The course module has eight semesters spread over four years — approximately 18 weeks in the first semester and 15 weeks in the second Semester, mid-June to mid-November, and mid-November to mid-April.

The main subjects are:

Academic Studies (Drawing and Painting): With the European influence, followed by Bengal School a new movement started in the art field, variously called Madras School, Bombay School etc. The shift from myths and legends to still-life, nature study and figure-drawing from live models paved way for a contemporary expression with multipoint perspectives. This is explored in this subject.

Indian Art (Drawing and Painting): The innovative creation of the palette/brushes and the canvas for producing art using eco-friendly, locally available natural materials forms the curriculum. This is the living tradition of Indian art paaramparyam, which continues even today. Ajantha murals (2nd century BC - 6th century AD) covering religious fervour and secular concepts, true frescoes in the Brahadeeswarar temple (10th century) in Tamil Nadu, renaissance during the Vijayanagara and Naik periods, culminating in the Maratha school in south India (17th century AD) and inspiring miniature paintings and extensive frescoes in north India: this course aims to impart some of their guiding principles and techniques.

Sculpture: A study of theories, methodologies and available mediums that gave impetus to sculpture. Studies include clay modelling, and plaster-casting to bronze-casting by lost-wax method.


Ceramics: This is an off-shoot of sculpture that evolved into a study of its own with archaeological finds focusing on the available pottery/ceramic shards. Different techniques (slab-casting, pinching, wheel, etc.) and varied glazes using country kiln, wood-fired, temperature-controlled and electrically-controlled kilns bring about stunning results.

Graphic Studio (Print Making): The journey of seals from the time of the Indus Valley civilisation till date has progressed from simple vegetable cut through stencil-cutting to acid-etching to screen-printing. Print making looks into these aspects of graphics.

Computer and Photography

On the theoretical side, art history is a major component. Students get to study Indian, European, old world and contemporary Indian/Western art forms. There are other allied courses in music, languages, heritage.

“It is a one-of-its-kind course,” says Lakshmi. “We start from canons of art, take it to figure drawings based on Shilpa Shastras, go on to miniatures for painting techniques, as in Tanjore and glass painting. We introduce archival awareness of textile and jewellery over the years. Pan-Indian mural techniques, such as folk/tribal/classic are taught so students understand both the material and the style. We explore creative composition which ends in a dissertation. Even those doing this course as a hobby reap benefits,” she says.

Applications for the course are available until May 31, at the college office and online. Interviews will be held on June 12 and 13. Eligibility is Class XII pass and the candidate must be 25 years as on June 1. For details, mail registrar@kalakshetra.in, call 044 24521169/24521170, or visit www.kalakshetra.in/Education/RDCFA/Admission/Download.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 7:38:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/visual-aesthetics-anyone/article17860984.ece

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