“The images are painted from the heart,” says Hyderabad-based Srikanth Babu. The artist is busy planning the position of 70 works —25 paintings of 22x18 inches and 45 mixed media canvases of 24x36 inches — on the wall. The exhibition title ‘Untitled’ at State Art Gallery is deliberate , informs Srikanth. “A name has limitations; Untitled gives scope to include many narratives.”
Strength from devotion
In his 32nd solo show in Hyderabad, the 10th at the State Art Gallery, Srikanth draws strength from his devotion. Nostalgia over stories narrated by his grandfather in his childhood drive his canvases, as do mythological characters portrayed by (late) actor NT Rama Rao and Telugu classic melodies. While the artist lives in the busy Karmanghat area, he enjoys the solitude in his studio at Chappal Bazaar where he paints after 11 pm. “I like to listen to songs while I paint. My thoughts get disturbed if someone is observing me while painting.” His studio too has influenced his themes. “I used to observe the way people organised cultural programmes and celebrated festivals, especially Bonalu; everybody seems happy and positive.”
Although he does abstract and cubism art, mythology is his favourite and trademark on canvas. Having around 200 group shows across the country under his belt, Srikanth says, “I stay connected to my roots but my learning never stops. I have combined this acrylic series with digital prints. I paint with acrylic colours surrounding the digital print on the canvas.” With a monochromatic colour palette dominated by brown and gold, the series is deity-driven. A painting of Balaji is interspersed with a digital print of small figures seen on temple gopurams; another work has a digital print of a steam engine symbolically representing the Sudarshana Chakra.
The artist religiously showcases his works during the July-September period, when the art market is vibrant. “Sravana maasam is an auspicious, celebratory month with Varalakshmi vratham; it heralds the festive season beginning with Vinayaka Chavithi, followed by Dasara and Deepavali. People often gift art works during the season. This also benefits the artists and infuses hope in them about the future.”
Srikanth Babu’s solo show Untitled is on at State Art Gallery till September 2