Artist S.G.Vasudev’s book ‘Vriksha’ demystifies the process of artistic creation writes PRAMILA LOCHAN
An overcast sky barely deterred the artistic fraternity from attending a book launch of a dear friend to all, S.G.Vasudev. Perchance a metaphorical acknowledgement of his belief that ‘man, woman, tree, leaves, sky, earth, sun, moon all have to coexist’ just as in his paintings.
As an artist he feels that ‘life and art are always together’ and that ‘the process of exchange is very important. Unfortunately literary people don’t see much art. A dancer rarely comes to an art show, musicians are satisfied in their own areas. I think it will be nice if we break the barrier in this country. Visual artists are perhaps the only people who are a little more open to the arts.’
A statement by eminent artist S.G.Vasudev, that brought together professionals from varied fields of art who discussed and put forth their views, problems and solutions. It also ensured that there was a need to address artistic connections and the possibilities of bringing together literature, art, dance, music and theatre instead of compartmentalizing art forms.
The occasion was special in more ways than one since it marked the launch of ‘Vriksha -The Art and Times of S.G.Vasudev.’
Synonymous with the tree of life, Vriksha unravels a story of an artist, his journey spanning 72 years from the traditional precinct of Mysore to being a renowned and respected name in the contemporary art world, from a caricaturist to becoming one of the leading artists in India. It speaks of his approach to art, moments of inspiration, his simplicity and penchant to interact and share with fellow artists while demystifying the process of artistic creation.
A reading that followed the release shared excerpts of his thoughts on art and collaborative experiments. His close association with writers, filmmakers, performing artists and craftsmen has lent varied creative dimensions to his work.
Once A. K.Ramanujam, a poet, was surprised to see Vasudev’s drawing book with many scribblings before arriving at one particular design for his book to which Vasudev replied, “ Like the way you edit your poem, I have to edit my drawing.’ This later evolved into a series of drawings titled ‘A tribute to Ramanujam’. Vasudev has done several drawings inspired by the writings of Da Ra Bendre, Ramanujam, Ananthamurthy and others.
Vriksha includes several such anecdotes and articles by art historians, critics and connoisseurs such as Sadanand Menon, Ashrafi Bhagat, Lata Mani, Ernst Kolnsperger, S Krishnan and others that chronicle the art and life of Vasudev.
The screening of a film ‘The Open Frame’ further provided a glimpse into the multi-layered vistas of his work and life. It speaks of the artist’s honesty and humility as a person, his passion, conviction and respect for art and contribution to art education. Directed by Chetan Shah and shot mainly in three locations, the farmhouse and studio residence in Koramangala, Bangalore and the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, near Chennai, it captures the poignancy and value that the artist attaches to these locations, his family and to art.
Having studied in the Government School of Arts and Crafts (later renamed College of Arts and Crafts) in Chennai under the mentorship of K.C.S.Paniker, Vasudev was part of the Madras Art Movement that sought to assimilate elements from indigenous sources comprising folk, tribal and traditional myths and sculpture whilst facing the challenge of evolving a visual language that was both Indian and contemporary. He was also among the group of artists that set up the Cholamandal Artists’ Village in 1964 where artists and craftsmen worked together as a community. This later led to many collaborative experiments with metal craftsmen using copper sheets, tapestries of his paintings with weaver Subbarayulu besides wood inlay products.
Over the decades he has worked in various media of oil on canvas, ink on paper, copper reliefs and tapestry exploring themes that include, Fantasy, Maithuna, Tree of Life, Humanscapes, He & She, Earthscapes, Theatre of Life and more recently Rhapsody inspired by music. “I’m only responding to it. When Bhimsen Joshi starts a raga, he sings a line, followed by yet another that’s changed differently. He builds up layers. As an artist, I related to this layering visually.”
Besides Vasudev’s artistic contribution to books, cinema and theatre his other initiative is to promote art appreciation and art education where he succeeded in persuading Bangalore University to establish a Visual art department.
Acclaimed to be a ‘thinking artist’ Vasudev would be happy if ‘his works live for 200 years and stands the test of time in the art world.’
Vriksha – The Art and Times of SG Vasudev,
Popular Prakashan, Mumbai
ISBN: 978-81-7991-627-8 (4375)
DVD- The Open Frame –a film on S.G.Vasudev
1. Tracking the artistic and personal journey of S.G.Vasudev: 57 mins.
2. Bonus Material: 142 mins.
Produced by Cintel Communication
Pramila Lochan is an art historian, critic and writer. She holds a Doctorate in Art History and is trained in Hindustani Classical music. Her Doctoral research is focussed on the interdisciplinary relation between Indian painting and music based on rāgamāla paintings and contemporary paintings. Her other research contribution is in the area of documentation and writing on mural paintings, folk, contemporary art, musicology besides curating in setting up an exclusive gallery on Ganjifa art for Hastashilpa Heritage Village, Manipal. She has taught courses in art history for postgraduate students, published research papers, contributory chapters and articles in the field of Indian art and music. As a freelance journalist she has interviewed several well-known artists and musicians for national newspapers, All India Radio and multimedia productions since 1992. She is presently working on the publication of her doctoral findings. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org