Mysticism and Tantric art inspire self-taught artist Rajesh Vijaykumar. ‘Mystics’, a two-day exhibition at Museum Auditorium, Thiruvananthapuram, showcased 35 of his works in acrylics, charcoal, watercolour and digital art.
Rajesh says he has been reading the Rig Veda and scriptures to understand the symbolism and iconography of Tantric art. Abstract forms and shapes depict complex philosophical thoughts that range from the meditative to the disturbing forms of the Universe.
Some of his best works are in charcoal, with painstaking details painted in with brush and charcoal dust. The play of light and shadow give the paintings a three-dimensional effect, evident in the work of a standing Ganesha strumming a veena.
‘Anandhakkadu’, again in charcoal, is on the mysterious, unopened B vault of the Sree Padmanabhawwamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram. Rajesh has picturised the underground place as one guarded by huge serpents.
Another exquisite work is of an Aghori, an ascetic, with his flowing beard, wrinkles and weather-beaten face. “I enjoy travelling and photography, and some of those snaps I clicked have motivated me to take the brush to interpret the photographs on canvas.”
‘Gangatharangam’, an interesting piece in acrylics, depicts the mythological story of the descent of Ganga through the matted locks of Lord Siva as she rushes down from the sky.
Unlike the sense of serenity and meditation in ‘Gangatharangam’, ‘Kamaghya’ seems to capture the destructive and violent face of Nature. “She represents Sati (in the Hindu Pantheon) and symbolises birth and death,” explains Rajesh.
Two of the pieces are digital art on canvas. One has a Theyyam artist in all his glory, while another shows a villainous character from Kathakali.
“The Theyyam painting was derived from a photograph I had taken in Kannur. I spend time with the performer to ensure that the intricate work on his face was reproduced faithfully in my work,” says Rajesh.
Rajesh takes about a week to complete one work, from its conceptualisation.
He is also offering classes in art and sculpting under the auspices of his studio Acharya.