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Contemporary Art of Telangana – ‘High on Hyderabad’ అక్టోబర్ 7, 2007

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in English, Hyderabad, Telangana.

Colours of change



An exhibition of paintings in Mumbai by artists from Hyderabad tries to capture the evolving textures of a fast-changing city.

Having experimented in the past with cityscapes and human figures, Fawad Tamkanat’s new series, “Street Observations”, is a more contemporary, sophisticated representation of Hyderabad.

Vignettes of life in a metro: Untitled by K. Srinivas Chari.

For a city that’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, the exhibition of figurative art, “High on Hyderabad”, at Jamaat Art Gallery in Mumbai, was a pleasant surprise. A city that has suffered much violence in recent t imes, Hyderabad is portrayed in a new light. And even as it is besieged by the IT industry, attracting talent from around the country and the globe, earning the dubious monicker “Cyberabad”, we are made privy to the everyday realities of the less celebrated rural migrants to the city.

Striking ambience

As you enter Jamaat, what strikes you most is the peace and communal harmony that the city once famously stood for. Fawad Tamkanat’s Muslim figures in traditional caps and burkhas are strategically placed opposite Ramesh Gorjala’s “Hanuman” and “Krishna”.

Bairu Raghuram’s work is inspired by the tranquillity of rural Telangana and Sachin Jaltare’s dreamlike figures add a touch of the spiritual and the divine. Meanwhile, Laxman Aelay’s city scenes of rural workers and Srinivas Reddy’s sculpted busts are telling social statements just as K. Srinivasa Chari’s figures in egg tempera hark back to the elegance of Nawabi Hyderabad.

Charmed by the city during a recent visit, this group show of emerging and established artists from Hyderabad has been curated by the gallery owner Pravina Mecklai (who is quick to point out that while Fawad is a practising Muslim and Gorjala a devout Hindu, they remain the best of friends).

Fawad Tamkanat surprises us with his new works, painted in the photorealistic style. Having experimented in the past with cityscapes and human figures, his new series, called “Street Observations”, is a more contemporary, sophisticated representation of a fast-changing Hyderabad as it is transformed from a sleepy town into a suave, modern city. This talented artist paints his immediate surroundings and scenes observed from his studio.

The striking “Labour”, “Irani Café” and others are painted in acrylic, his evolving style evocative of a city in transition. “I believe in changing for the better and find repetition monotonous,” he says. “There is constant change around me. It inspires me and influences my work.” Meanwhile, Gorjala’s works derive from Hindu mythology and narrate tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Inspired by the traditional folk art of the region, they are paintings within a painting, tales within a dominant character, rendered in a dynamic and contemporary style.


A painting from the “Street Observations” series by Fawad Tamkanat. Bairu Raghuram and Laxman Aelay sketch their observations of rural life in and around Hyderabad, in pen and ink (we see a touch of Laxma Goud here). The former is reminiscent of the pristine and untouched Telangana region itself while the latter depicts ordinary scenes from the lives of rural migrants from Telangana to Hyderabad. These everyday moments of a working class population have been captured by Aelay in his “Song of the Village” series. Masterful strokes in black and white are presented against a stark and flat red background, unlike any of his earlier works. Raghuram’s goat is replaced by Aelay’s bicycle. “Only 10 kilometres from Cyberabad is a society that has undergone little transformation,” says Aelay. “Telangana lies only 70 kilometres from Hyderabad but retains its strong rural culture. However, these people are forced by harsh village conditions to seek employment in the city as labourers and are trying to change their style of work.”

Character portraits


A figurine by Srinivasa Reddy.

Srinivas Reddy is the only sculptor in the group. His bronze busts are character portraits from Hyderabad society – the jeweller, the socialite, the rock star, the young girl initiated into society, among others. Srinivasa Chari’s profiles in egg tempera and Sachin Jaltare’s figures in mixed media have a calming effect and an almost surreal visual appeal as they explore the spiritual and the inner self. The latter is a migrant himself, having adopted Hyderabad as his home city over his place of origin, Akola, and the more commercial Mumbai.

“High on Hyderabad” is a treat for the art-starved in Mumbai who seek fresh talent. The artists display an easy familiarity with the region, providing rare insights into its culture. In times of terrorist attacks and the IT invasion, they reveal to us the softer face of Hyderabad. Although a stark, contemporary portrait of Cyberabad is wanting, the exhibition, nonetheless, leaves the viewer on a high note.

Source: Magazine, The Hindu (Sunday Oct 7, 2007)




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