Society

A cross ventilation of art and space

Artist Bhagyanath C at work in his studio

Artist Bhagyanath C at work in his studio   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

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A long, narrow staircase that winds its way up three floors is how one accesses the studio of artist Bhagyanath C. The workspace, which is located on the third floor of his house ‘Thumb’, on Paradise Road near Janatha junction at Vyttila, envelops one with a feeling of calm right from the moment of entry. A couple of large paintings lean against the far wall, while some of his smaller works hang from the walls, depicting singular subjects in various contemplative poses. One wall is dominated by two massive windows with sliding glass panes, through which natural light bathes the entire room. A small stand kept to one side houses all Bhagyanath’s artistic equipment- pencils, erasers, sharpeners, brushes, colours and more.

The artist, whose work features among those in the stations of the Delhi Metro, says that his main criteria for his artistic space were light and air. “I wanted a lot of natural light coming in and enough ventilation as well, which is the reason for these wide windows,” he says, pointing at them, which have panes wide open and offer a view of a nearby house and some trees beyond. “I now intend to set up a music system here, as I like to listen to music while working.”

Bhagyanath explains that it is important for him that his workspace be removed from his house, which makes up the two floors below his studio. “For me, I come here in the morning and leave in the evening; it is almost like going for work, even though it is right above my house.

I spend time here thinking, reading and watching videos, that all contribute to the artistic process. Drawing with the hand is only the final process, there is a lot that comes before, and since that process happens here, the studio is important,” he says.

A computer sits in the corner of the hall, next to an orange tray with some dried colours inside, with a couple of compact discs lying next to the monitor. Bhagyanath agrees that art has progressed a lot in recent years and technology has come to assist it in many ways.

“I am not one of those who believe using technological aids takes away from art, after all, different artists use oil colours differently. The medium is not important, the final product is,” he explains, adding that he is currently working on a series on how urban life and the lack of space affect the human mind. “It was partly inspired by the works of Desmond Morris, where he analyses what happens to animals when they lose the freedom of the wild.” The works sitting in the corner reflect this, with industrial shapes squeezed together uncomfortably against a dark blue background. He intends to follow this up with a series exploring the myths behind theyyam.

Bhagyanath, whose wife Jayanthi is an art teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Kadavanthra, has set up his studio with the sole purpose of providing a seclusion that aids his process. “The staircase leading to this space is a new addition, allowing it to be accessed without entering the house. Below on the second floor I have a library with all my books and discs.” When quizzed on how the studio remains so cool despite being on the top floor with the late morning sun beating down, he smiles, “I do a little farming on the terrace as well, which perhaps contributes to keeping the heat down.”

Was he picky about the location of his studio? “It is good to dream of having a place with a fantastic view but here in Kochi sometimes it is just not possible. I have tried to do the best I can with the space available,” says the native of Kannur, for whom the choice of Kochi was a conscious one. “The art scene in Kochi is quite lively, and there are frequent exhibitions, with many artists coming from outside the State.”

As we make our way back down the long staircase, Bhagyanath seems happy with his daily routine. Ask him if this means that now is a good time to become an artist, he says quickly, “I wouldn’t say that, but here in Kochi things are not so bad.”

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2019 6:28:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/artist-bhagyanath-c-studio-in-kochi/article7641763.ece

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