‘Specially South’ – an exhibit of artist with Southern India connection

An exhibition focused on artists from South India by Chennai based Apparao Art Gallery brings into spotlight the range of art being produced in this particular region of India. The exhibition is aptly titled 'Specially South'.

The aim of the traveling exhibition that will be hosted in most major metros of the country including Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai is to showcase some of the best works by artists from South India. It includes over eighty artists with 'some' southern connection. The traveling show after a halt at Alliance Fran'aise, Mumbai (first week of July) will move to Artists' Centre, Chennai (July 14-15), before culminating at Apparao Galleries ((July 26-28).

Artists from Kerala like Anoop Panicker, Riyas Komu and Gopi Krishna are among the known names who have established their identity. Mumbai-based Bose Krishnamachari, whose work also features in the exhibition, has too made a similar attempt to showcase works of artists from Kerala as a niche segment. His show 'Double Enders' featured leading artists from Kerala. The show 'Specially South' with a similar motive is being hosted on a larger scale.

The show features a cross section of artists with varied subjects and styles like Vaikuntam's richly embellished folk figures of, Redeppa Naidu's iconic images, Gopi Krishna's mythical figures, Riyas Komu's politically charged works, and geometric forms of Akkitam Narayanan. The latter treats symbolism as the core of his language, with his use of geometric shapes and repeated motifs. The mysticism is clearly evident especially in his restrained use of colors and strict adherence to geometric harmony.

Senior artists like K.C.S. Panicker and Laxma Goud have coined a new artistic lingo all of whom find a place in the show. If the former's work are as diverse in theme as social commentaries or mundane play things with the folk, popular visual culture, the kitsch elements and the caricature-like figures his visual tools, Laxma Goud is Inspired greatly by the rural life and landscapes.

Considering the scale of the exhibit, the works on view have been divided into specific groups or categories depending on whether they originally belong to South India and have migrated elsewhere or whether they have happened to visit South India, and imbibe the region's culture and traditions. Most of these artists clearly recognizes their cultural roots and attach a lot of significance to them. Yet, the modernity in their art is a byproduct of their ability to handle various sources of inspiration with a great deal of flexibility and freedom.

The section 'originally from the South' showcases works of KG Subramanyam, J Swaminathan, Badri Narayan, among others. The third category consists of painters who do not belong to South India but who apparently came to the South and whose compositions were knowingly or unknowingly influenced by the region. The artists clubbed under this category are Sunil Das, Paritosh Sen, Gopal Ghose, etc.

Among other prominent artists showcased are Thota Vaikuntam, A Ramachandran and Krishen Khanna (his oil on teak ply that the artist made it in the 1960s, during his stay in Chennai is on view). The artists on view even though come from diverse backgrounds, what binds them together is the fact that they have stayed and practised art in the South at some stage of their carrer, and have paint subjects from the region. According to Sharan Apparao, the brain behind the show, contemporary art from South India displaying a subtle mix of tradition and modernity has a distinctive and definite flavor with strong linear quality. The exposure across Indian cities will make the artists and their visual vocabulary familiar to art lovers, the organizers believe.

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