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Life, death and beyond

Brimming with philosophy: C. Douglas' works  

There was a quiet buzz at Gallery Sri Parvati, where C. Douglas’ solo show Words Need Words was inaugurated as part of Art Chennai. Visitors — young and old, collectors, connoisseurs, even Carnatic musicians and amateur enthusiasts caught a glimpse of Douglas’ exploration of life, death and beyond with his intense paintings. The recurring butterfly, which seemingly has a hundred eyes on its wings to scare predators, and the ‘blind poet’ motif piqued the interest of many an admirer.

The artist, relaxed and sociable, patiently explained to anyone who was interested what the paintings meant to him. That is, in a sense, the success of platforms such as Art Chennai. Not only can you visit galleries and immerse yourself in art of all kinds across the city, but also have the artists around to talk to you about their works.

Douglas’ range of interest is broad, and as artists go, he is ever-willing to expand the horizon of his knowledge. “I started work on these paintings a while ago. But at that time I wasn’t very clear about certain philosophies that I wanted to project on my work,” he says and adds with a smile, “Now I am!”

Many expressions

A small conversation with Douglas on his work flits from German poet Rilke’s works to Nietzsche’s ‘eternal return’ and the asura Hiranya’s tale from our mythology. From life to death and everything in between. C.H. Cooley’s ‘looking glass self’ too finds expression in Douglas’ works. “Just words don’t make sense,” he says. They need to be strung together coherently to produce meaning. The works on display also feature text — such as ‘words’ and ‘words need words’ juxtaposed with butterflies, the poet, larvae and more. The death of the larva signifies the birth of a butterfly.

“In the tale of Prahlad and Hiranya, Hiranya points to a pillar and asks him, does your Narayana exist here, to which Prahlad says, Thoonilum iruppaur, thurumbilum iruppar! Tamil experts tell me that thurumbu here means decay. In pagan traditions, people worship trees. And when the leaf falls from a tree, it is natural. Only if it falls, is it a tree. Otherwise it’s plastic. God is not only in life but also in decay; death is not the end.”

Words Need Words is on till February 15 at Gallery Sri Parvati, Eldams Road.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 7:09:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/life-death-and-beyond/article5680802.ece

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