Thursday, July 25, 2024

Continuum at Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad: Artists highlight cinema, politics, food, migration and the timelessness of sculptures

Subhakar Tadi’s work traces the intersection of cinema and politics in Andhra Pradesh; on view at Kalakriti, Hyderabad

Subhakar Tadi’s work traces the intersection of cinema and politics in Andhra Pradesh; on view at Kalakriti, Hyderabad
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Four artists residing in Vadodara come together to display their multidisciplinary artworks that create a sense of continuum at Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad. The month-long showcase titled Continuum features paintings by Rachana Badrakia and Subhakar Tadi, sculptures by Vijay Kadam and woodcut works by Satyanarayana Gavara. What can a viewer expect at the gallery? The imagery of yellow fields that create an imaginary happy space, contemporary sculptures inspired by temple and cave architecture, paintings that discuss the intersection of cinema and politics, and woodcut artworks that trace the journey of empty lands to harvested grains.

Reel gets real

Subhakar Tadi who has been an artist for two decades has often contemplated on the meeting point of cinema and politics, especially in South India. In one painting of a single screen theatre, he uses poster and film titles of NTR and Chiranjeevi to show their reign over the masses. In another, he shows Pawan Kalyan addressing a large gathering. Humour runs through some of his paintings. A viewer can notice the signboard ‘brainwash’ near a theatre. The artist also asks, ‘how do I know who is who?’ referring to a layman’s thoughts of whether he should look at the leader as any other politician or as a demi-God who stepped out of the screen?

Subhakar, who hails from East Godavari district says, “I came across a statement (by American artist Florence Scovel Shinn) that reads ‘if you don’t run your subconscious mind, someone else will run it for you’. This got me thinking about who influences us. In childhood, it is our teachers and as we grow up, I have seen how cinema and politics influence us.” One of his works at Kalakriti is a black and white portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi addressing a gathering. Subhakar says he wanted to go back in time and pay homage to Gandhi’s non-violent method of fighting for the country.

Fields of yellow

Rachana Badrakia’s impressions of the twilight sky through endless fields

Rachana Badrakia’s impressions of the twilight sky through endless fields
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Rachana Badrakia’s mixed media work on linen canvas draws from her memories of gazing at the twilight skies. “Colour is a significant aspect of my work,” she acknowledges. She paints fields in yellow-orange hues in her diptych and triptych works. “When I sat outside home during twilight, I could see several shades of yellows, oranges and reds.” Working in Vadodara, she would wonder if she, too, could trace her journey back home to Ahmedabad like the birds do in the evening. She likens these multi-layered paintings of fields to the layered emotions of human beings.

The grain story

Satyanarayana Gavara’s woodcut work on the journey of grains

Satyanarayana Gavara’s woodcut work on the journey of grains

A woodcut series titled Granary stands out for its finer details of putting the rice grain in prime focus. Food is a recurrent theme for this artist, Satyanarayana Gavara, who grew up in Narayanapuram in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, in an agrarian family. He is the only one in his family to become an artist, encouraged by his drawing teacher who helped him pursue a Bachelor’s course in Fine Arts at Andhra University. A master’s programme in Vadodara followed. “Most of my art is about food because I have seen my parents toiling in the fields.” He began to work on the Granary series in April 2022 to show the process of tilling the land, sowing and nurturing the fields till the grains are harvested. The journey of the rice grains, says the artist, becomes a metaphor to also discuss the migration of the younger generation. “I moved to Baroda for art and my elder brother works in Pune. Similarly, many youngsters from our village have moved out. I wanted to highlight this through my work.” 

Past forward

Organic Fields installation by Vijay Kadam at Kalakriti art gallery

Organic Fields installation by Vijay Kadam at Kalakriti art gallery

Taking centre stage in one hall of Kalakriti is an installation featuring 10 wooden sculptures titled Organic Fields by Vijay Kadam. Using wood retrieved from demolished homes and drawing inspiration from temple pillars and sculptures of caves in Ajanta, Ellora and Mahabalipuram, the artist says, “I visualised the sculptures as a field and worked on an installation to talk about history and heritage.” 

During the pandemic, he worked on another set of sculptures in which busts of human forms are stacked on racks, imitating the display at a sculpture artist’s studio. “Some of the forms are incomplete, as though they are works in progress in a studio. It is tough to know the identity of the people featured in the sculptures.” This is also the artist’s way of drawing attention to the nameless, faceless sculptors who have carved sculptures now found in caves and temples in India.

(Continuum is on view till May 10 at Kalakriti Art Gallery, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad)

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