Vaikuntam’s Telangana ఏప్రిల్ 5, 2011Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Art, Bathukamma, Culture, heritage, Identity, Mulki, regionalism, Telangana, Telugu, Vemulawada.
Tags: Vaikuntam Thota
Dr Seema Bawa, Deccan Chronicle, April 3, 2011
The brightly painted figures of Telangana men and women are Thota Vaikuntam’s signature style, he exaggerated contoured of reconstructed form, with highly stylised folk features and perspective mark his paintings.
The morphemes, defined as the minimal meaningful unit of language, in Vaikuntam’s case his visual language, are the foreheads adorned with kumkum bindi amidst a plane of turmeric paste in case of women and sectarian marks for men. Textiles marked with dots, red vermillion dipped palms, red lips and elongated eyes are other characteristic features of his work for the last five decades or so.
The feminine element is exaggerated in the full form, with midriffs peeking through vivid apparel that is flowing and yet clinging. The physicality associated with fecund femininity is emphasised through the use of shringar or adornment of the female self through body marks, make-up, ornaments, coiffure and the like. The men are comparatively less flamboyant in terms of clothes and decoration but no less dramatic than their female counterparts.
So, when one comes across a show titled Metamorphosis: The Changing World of Thota Vaikuntam at Art Alive, there is a natural inquisitiveness regarding this transmutation. The change is certainly not in his style, colour or basic form. And many of the paintings do depict his typical Telangana men and women. Evolution and change is seen in the relatively complex compositions with a new interactive and at times a conversational element flowing between the figures.
Beturbaned men holding a flute huddled in close proximity with voluptuous ladies accompanied by parrots recur in his work, collectively and individually. While one is tempted to draw upon many mythological and legendary allusions to Krishna, gopis and inherent eroticism in the collection of symbolically loaded devices, perhaps the depth of the painting is on the surface. The flute is a simple wind instrument on which every village boy tries his talent; after all Krishna was also a simple village cowherd.
The local is reiterated in references to the festival of Bathukamma celebrated by offering trays of conically heaped flowers and women with toddy in their pitchers; because Thota Vaikuntam’s art talks of the soil, the village, the region and then transcends it to reach the universal.
– Dr Seema Bawa is an art historian, curator and critic