Art

In Hyderabad, Convergence of artistic pursuits in a family

An artwork by Sumeela Mody

An artwork by Sumeela Mody | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A father-daughter duo will be exhibiting their artworks in Hyderabad, each exploring varied techniques of art. The daughter, Sumeela Mody, will showcase her paintings that have a distinct textural quality, thanks to the use of a palette knife, while the father, retired architect Asoka Katakam, will be displaying his pen and ink drawings and a few sculptural works. The duo will be paying a tribute to Asoka Katakam’s mother, artist Sushila Jayaram (1926-1990). The show titled Convergence will be on view at Gallery 78 from June 10 to 17.

“Art has been at the core of a lot of things we did at home,” Sumeela says, recalling her memories of browsing through her grandmother’s trunk and finding art supplies as a child. She lost her grandmother when she was young but the art she left behind was an inspiration. Sumeela spent her early years in the UK before returning to India and studying at Rishi Valley School and later pursuing higher studies in economics and finance: “But the interest in art never faded.”

Straddling a career in marketing and interior design, she found herself veering towards art over the years. “I took up a few short courses and I am currently training with artist Shaun Heffernen. He urged me to try something new and that is when I began using the palette knife, which was one of the techniques my grandmother had explored. Using the palette knife gave my paintings a textural quality; it was as though I had the freedom to sculpt a visual.”

Sumeela’s paintings in vibrant colours are free-flowing, in contrast to her father Asoka Katakam’s pen and ink drawings in black and white, with just a hint of colour, recreating rural lifestyles. “My father’s art reflects his eye for minute details,” notes Sumeela, attributing it to his need for precision as an architect.

(Clockwise) Sushila Jayaram, Asoka Katakam and Sumeela Mody

(Clockwise) Sushila Jayaram, Asoka Katakam and Sumeela Mody | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Convergence began as an effort to showcase Sumeela’s works. “In the last few years, I sensed an evolution in my work and I was ready to exhibit my work,” she says. Two of her artworks from her series H.U.R.T (Hope, Unity, Resilience and Tolerance) were displayed early this year as part of an exhibition organised by the Hyderabad Art Group on migration during COVID-19 in India. “For Convergence, I was keen that my father also displayed his work. His work has remained private all these years.”

Asoka Katakam remembers his mother Sushila actively pursuing art when he was a child, growing up in the United Kingdom. “My mother showcased her work in China and Egypt, among other nations. I can see the similarities between my mother’s and my daughter’s work, both using the palette knife.” 

If you try to look up Sushila Jayaram online, you are likely to hit a dead end since her work is not documented in the public domain. Sumeela points out how some of the veteran artists in Hyderabad recall her grandmother’s work: “Artist Laxma Goud fondly remembered her work and how she had helped him in the initial stages of his art journey.”

Sushila Jayaram grew up in Madras Presidency of pre-independence India and later moved to Delhi and the UK. Her artistic journey saw her exploring oil paintings, palette knife technique and watercolour paintings.  

A pen and ink drawing by Asoka Katakam, exploring a rural theme

A pen and ink drawing by Asoka Katakam, exploring a rural theme | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sumeela attributes her interest in art to both her father and grandmother: “My grandmother’s artistic expressions, my father’s design sensibilities and my mother Sabrina’s talent in sugar crafting — all this contributed to me finding my artistic voice.”

(Convergence opens on June 10 at Gallery 78, Hyderabad, and will be on view till June 17)


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 11:55:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/in-hyderabad-convergence-of-artistic-pursuits-in-a-family/article65509748.ece