The multiple hues of an artist’s life

S.G. Vasudev’s painting from his book titled ‘Vriksha’. Photo: Special Arrangement

S.G. Vasudev’s painting from his book titled ‘Vriksha’. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: SG Vasudev


S.G. Vasudev explores the influences on his art through a book and film.

Artists are a shy lot barring a few exceptions. Bengaluru-based S.G. Vasudev is one of those exceptions who don’t mind talking about their life and art. “I think people should know what I am doing. How many people go to the exhibition?

A book and a film can reach out to many more people,” says the artist, whose roots are from Cholamandal, a village for artists set up by K.C.S. Panicker in 1966. Of late, Vasudev has been travelling for a book and film based on his life. The film will be shown in Mumbai, Baroda and Ahmedabad in December.

Vriksha - The Art and Times of S.G. Vasudev, published by Popular Prakashan, was first launched in Bengaluru two years ago, followed by a Chennai launch. The film made by Chetan Shah has been screened in at least 10 different places in Bengaluru, Chennai and New Delhi. However, the book was only launched in New Delhi on September 4. Vriksha features essays on different artistic and personal phases of Vasudev’s life and interviews by art critics, writers and friends. This effort, he says, has been anchored by him in entirety.

“Often what we read about artists is what has been written by writers and critics. A book should also present an artist’s voice. The book has my voice. The film was made before the book and that gave me the idea. I discussed it with my friends like Sadanand Menon, Geeta Doctor and they all said that it is time for a book,” says the artist.

Vasudev’s work — copper-reliefs, drawings, tapestries, paintings — is discussed at length in the book, which also speaks of his influences of theatre, dance, literature and poetry. There is a section devoted to his work on A.K. Ramanujan’s poetry.


“I was in the College of Fine Arts in Chennai when I met Girish Karnad. It was in 1964. Being Kannada speaking, we connected and he exposed me to the best of Kannada literature. I listen to classical music when I paint. I watch lot of plays. I have been art director for some films in which I collaborated with B.V. Karanth and Girish Karnad. I have designed masks for a play. Dancer Madhu Nataraj and I are now thinking of collaborating. All this has really affected my art,” Vasudev explains.

The book’s title is drawn from the tree of life — laden with folklore, myth and legend — that he painted in his Vriksha series. The book and the film take a lot from each other. “Chetan brings in all elements of my life, my personal life… From my late first wife Arnawaz to Ammu Joseph, whom I married later, my house in Cholamandal... everything is woven in so well.” He is now contemplating a book on drawings based on poetry.

Vasudev has tried to take art out of museums and galleries and introduce it people in public spaces through an initiative called ArtPark Bengaluru. Every first Sunday of the month, artists gather at a park and draw. Anybody can walk in, watch and even buy a work of art priced as low as Rs. 500.

Ananya Drishya is another effort through which school students are exposed to art. “An artist belongs to the society and he has to be responsible towards it,” says Vasudev.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:26:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/sg-vasudev-explores-the-influences-on-his-art-the-multiple-hues-of-an-artists-life/article7625947.ece

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