Over nearly five years, Vallery Puri has seen the rapid changes in Hyderabad. Little escaped her eye as she saw the construction of flyovers and rocks making way for high rises. Her observations, recorded on canvas, are now on display through the show of Urbanseque at Kalakriti art gallery in Hyderabad.
Vallery depicts the Hyderabad of our times; the images are crowded and packed with details . What stands out in her 33 oil works and 10 acrylics is the vibrancy, symmetry in composition, and an energetic representation of outdoor spaces. Whether it is a drive on a flyover with bumper to bumper traffic, cable wires dangling from poles or the unique stories and shapes of the majestic rocks .
How it started
A flyover to be constructed in front of her house in Jubilee Hills inspired Surround Sound , a work that shows a flyover surrounded by houses and new buildings coming up. Vallery, who had just renovated her house and planted several trees was shocked at the rapid pace of construction work. “We witnessed two levels of noise; the digging and drilling at the construction site was traumatic, but once the flyover was completed in 2020, the traffic became extremely noisy,” she recalls.
Stepping out during the lockdown eases was another new experience. The vista kept changing so rapidly that it was difficult for her to accept initially and was heartbreaking. “People would comment, ‘Oh my God, that was such a beautiful rock, a lovely villa and where has that Turtle rock gone’?”
The colourful flowering and leafy foliage at some corners or a few engaging sculptures at a crossroads and traffic signals also find a place in her canvases.
Vallery never sketches; instead she paints directly on canvas and refers to online videos as she tries sculptures in epoxy air-drying clay. The three pieces looking up titled How High? in 48, 22 and 16 inches are a metaphor for the emerging skyscrapers in the city. Having grown up in a Hyderabad filled with old bungalows and houses, the artist reflects on ‘buildings taller than hillocks.’ She coined the word Urbanesque by combining the words ‘urban’ and ‘grotesque’ but has recently realised ‘Urbanesque’ is an architectural term for buildings being built close together; boxy buildings with hardly any space in between.’
The series, acknowledges that this remaking of Hyderabad is necessary and inevitable to address the growing needs of the population but a bit of creative thought would make it beautiful. “Hyderabad’s character lies in its rocks. Instead of building around it, we are just flattening them up. Can we not protect them, so that our homes look better with that rock?”
Urbanesque show by Vallery Puri is on at Kalakriti Art gallery till December 5