K Narendranath, teaching art at the Kendriya Vidyalaya, Srikakulam, has mounted
his second solo exhibition at the Minaz Art Gallery. And it is a lyricism in portrayal
that salvages his efforts from a fixation for constantly representing his cultural
milieu in his works.
After completing his BFA in painting from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, Narendranath has worked with senior artists such as T Vaikuntam, Kavita Deuskar, C Jagdish and G Ramakrishna. A regular exhibitor in Hyderabad since 1997, Narendranath displays a strong inclination towards a linear tradition of figurative work pursued by the artists of this region. In fact, if we consider the artists that he has worked with, especially Vaikuntam, Jagdish and Deuskar, we realize that the cultural facet is the most essential aspect of their work, the leitmotif upon which the imagery has been fashioned and executed.
Depending upon the natives, Narendranath also expresses a choice. A decision to portray people in their own cultural environment. Therefore, this solo exhibition is not only linked with his previous work, it also finds its roots in the tradition of our region where the local is adoringly treated as one creatively accomplished. Glorifying the rustic patina, Narendranath has shifted the source of his inspiration towards the coastal Andhra region, unlike his gurus who are all stationed in the Telangana.
But while representing one's own cultural milieu is a sensible option for an artist, to constantly linger upon the same imagery with technical variations calls for questioning. By doing it, he puts himself in jeopardy of stagnation.
Sourcing the inspiration for his imagery in this exhibition from the domain of Srikakulam, Narendranath has endeavored to document the archetypal sensibility of a people whose culture is disciplined by social and religious customs, political and economic exigencies and geographic positioning. The exhibition is an array of people at leisure, of people demonstrating enterprise and of simple portraits that function as an interface to a time and a space obviously distanced from the spectator.
The paintings and charcoal drawings on exhibition comprise an interesting display: In addition to doing charcoal drawings on handmade paper and acrylic paintings, Narendranath modifies his imagery by applying the dry point method of printing and reverse painting, where he inscribes his lines upon acrylic sheet to roll and wipe off the ink in order to paint the sheet, as one would do upon glass.
The painter's lyricism salvages his effort in instances where he attempts to highlight certain contemporary elements, as in a work where he portrays a woman in her purple sari seated upon the ground in pink slippers. The portrayal of the effect of the wind on her clothes attracts the eye that seeks a certain gracefulness in characterization while still staying realistic.
Perhaps if Narendranath pursues the delicacies of myths and fantasies in his work, he will benefit more in his endeavors.