Each time the Young At Art Group (YAAG) holds a show, they tackle social issues. Though the members share a common interest in diversity and engaging with issues, individual members of YAAG follow their own artistic path, coming together only for a annual group show.
The group comprises Jangaiah Polepogu, Naresh Bollu, Ramesh Baikani and Dana Sai Shashank as core members. Hailing from humble backgrounds in Telangana, the artists who have different styles and perspectives, follow an individual path when not working on their annual group show.
Formed in 2014, the seed for YAAG’s was sown in Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU), Masab Tank in Hyderabad. “While pursuing Masters in Fine Arts, we felt the contemporary art scene in Hyderabad had only traditional stylised work. We were passionate to create art that draws attention,” recollects Jangaiah.
While the group’s earlier two shows were held at Nehru Arts Gallery in JNAFAU, its recent mixed media show ‘4X4’ (so titled as four artists displayed four works each and the show was inaugurated at 4.44 pm) was at the State Art Gallery in Madhapur.
It has been an arduous journey for artist Jangaiah who hails from Keshampet village in the Mahbubnagar district. With his parents being farm labourers struggling to make ends meet, he came to Hyderabad to study art. He made a mark with group shows and founded PoPo, an Art institute in Balkampet. Surrealism is Jangaiah’s forte. Juxtaposing elements of everyday life with beautiful imagery, he makes a comment on life around us.
His works on the chemical ripening of fruits, ‘‘Evolution of Human Being’ series reflects on the present-day society urging people to believe in science. “If we believe in evolution that is science-based, we realise we are responsible for our own lives. I want to depict how science is important ,” he says.
Jangaiah’s two-feet wooden sculpture shaped in the form of a womb with sperm drawings focuses on human reproduction. “The reproductive process happens due to the meeting of a sperm and egg. But lack of this awareness gives rise to superstitions among some people,” he says.
Jangaiah believes art is an instrument of change. “Artists have to be socially responsible as this visual form has the power to transform. I like to create beautiful yet responsible art.”
Weaving the painting
“Canvas is my weaving thread,” says Naresh Bollu whose paintings of Gandhi appear as pixelated images. Warangal-born resident of Hyderabad opted for weaving to make a mark in the art field. “As a child, I saw my father weave and I incorporated that style in my works.”
Naresh’s work is challenging and time-consuming, taking around seven to 10 days. First, he creates a painting on two canvas sheets, then cuts the sheets into strips and weaves them together like fabric to create a pixelated image. “Unlike paper, canvas cutting can be challenging; With even a small jerk, the strips can become unequal and the paintings have to be created again,” he points out.
With works on Monalisa and the subject of ‘Pain’, Naresh has done several works on Gandhi and his different moods. “I created a Monalisa painting to show that not just Monalisa’s smile, even weaving is beautiful,” he smiles.
Besides a short stint as a manager at Gallery Space, Naresh is a freelance artist doing individual/commissioned works. Now, he looks forward to his first solo show on Gandhi at IconArt Gallery on the occasion of Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2.
With a touch of sensitivity
Children and social issues have been the subject of Ramesh Baikani’s mixed media works. 2014 was a high point in his life as an artist, with his work being selected for the National Art Festival in Gujarat and also Kochi Muziris Biennale. Inspired by social issues, he was deeply affected when a bomb blast in the Gaza strip killed school children. “The violence was madness; it is terrifying to even think how anyone could target innocent children.”
A drawing teacher at Uniscent School in Bachupally, Ramesh is researching the relationship between human beings – especially kids – and mobile phones to depict in his paintings. “The job sustains me financially and helps see students’ experiences on the role of communication in their lives.” In the recent 4x4 show, his oil and acrylic 3x3 painting depicted Hanuman as a communicator. “He was the main person passing on the communication between Rama and Sita in Lanka.”
Ramesh believes YAAG friends, with different styles and perspectives, do not step into each other’s territory, “Ours is like a support group where we discuss, share feedback and get inspired. Since we are friends first, we do not have any egos and the responses help us to grow. The group’s USP is the theme-based concept and the way we present our works.”
Break the mould
Think out of the box is the mantra of artist Dana Sai Shashank, who has a day job as an assistant professor at SR University in Warangal.
Shashank is interested in automobile mechanics. An accident in 2010 made him immobile for six months, he focussed on the use of technology in machinery. “Doctors used drilling machines and cameras during my surgery and I realised the technology that was used. Once the screws used in my legs to fix a broken bone were removed, I used them back in a work based on circuit board,” he recollects.
Small human figures appear on canvas symbolically representing different mindsets. “Most people adhere to norms to think in a particular mindset; I want to break that mindset to show how our minds have infinite possibilities. Only when we think and question, we get new ideas.”