The article can be accessed online at the Times of India
site http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?eid=31807&dt=20150722 on page 6 epaper
The seductive beauty of innocence:
Muralidharan’s new paintings K.
by M D . Muthukumaraswamy .
Inside the tranquil Besant Nagar home studio of
Muralidharan, his new modernist painting of the Vaishnavite poetess Andal startles you with its alluring beauty of a folk art. K. a closer look at the familiar features of Andal- the side hair bun, the parrot and the flower garland- you become aware of the rich texture of the painting. The On body of Andal in geometrical shapes of black and white etches her body slightly forward against the lyricism of the Tamil alphabets in which Tiruppavai is written as if the canvas were a stone of inscriptions. The helplessness of her slender hands matches the dreamy big eyes and the mysterious half smile hidden behind her lips. Masked in crimson a large peacock, miniature of a reclining Vishnu, Garuda, and numerous little creatures divine and natural share their colour with the flower in Andal’s hand. When you realize that behind the painting’s charm there lies a mastery of portraiture you begin to wonder whether the semblance of his works to folk arts is only a armored . Muralidharan says in one his exhibition brochures, “ I wouldn’t call mine folk art, and it would be more appropriate to call it naïve art”. The goddess Meenakshi painting shares several of the stylistic features of Andal but it appears to be more fantastic with Meenakshi’s wild Medusa like hairs, and the hands making the magical appearance from the masked universe of the crimson background. Comparing the paintings of Andal and Meenakshi one would discern that what Muralidharan calls his naiveté is actually an innocence with which he approaches his subjects, the popular images of religious folklore. pretense
The artistic achievement of
of paintings is spectacular not only for Muralidharan’s present set also for his methodological inheritance from the Madras school of art which set out to discover our cultural roots and their modernist expressions. himself but folkloric motifs, and the images of popular religious Muralidharan’s as goddess Lakshmi, and Saraswati do not abandon the traditional decorative patterning but they reinvent them and reposition them. Another characteristic of Muralidharan’s paintings is that he does a series of paintings on the same subject. Whether it is an elephant or a Kamadhenu, Muralidharan presents a set of variations on the same theme, accentuating the play on our unconscious perceptions of them. folklore such paintings on the same theme present reconfigurations of familiar motifs resembling Muralidharan’s in its vivaciousness and virtuousness resulting in compositions of bright unconventional colours. Muralidharan says, “ I also learnt that I must continue to evolve, continue to experiment, if I should be relevant and meaningful to the society, I live in. To me artistic achievement, success and being different is not a fixed point from where you can talk down to people. It is a state of flux and I am part of it”. The good news is that children’s play Muralidharan’s Andal is a masterpiece. K.