CHENNAI: A few magazines, a bottle of glue and an eye for the right piece of colour. V V Ramani is synonymous to the art of collage in India. Being the only artist who specialises in it apart from other art forms, his journey into this artistic space is full of surprises and creativity.
Ahead of his talk as a guest speaker at the Bliss Catchers event on May 28, we caught up with him to walk us through his journey within the art space. He showed us his works before we sat together for a chat.
If you have visited his website, you know the story of how during the second year of his college, he asked his teacher for paints and she told him to use coloured papers instead. His interest in collage triggered. But there was more. “I was always interested in painting but I never thought about taking it up as my career. One of my mom’s relative suggested I join the Government College of Arts. That was my turning point in life. Only college life took me closer to art,” he narrates.
After college in 1977, he got a job within the folds of textile and design. Why not collage you ask? Remember, it was the early 80s when art wasn’t appreciated let alone a collage. “All 10x10 designs were hand painted. I loved doing it but there are times when distributors came and demanded certain colours that as an artist would make you cringe,” he narrates.
After three years of work there, he began freelancing and continued work on textiles, wedding and theatre set designs too.”
In 1997, he received a call for an exhibition and Ramani chose to do the Navarasa (the nine emotions). He received the State award for the same. His interest to do more was revived. You may know that Ramani is the only one in the world to create an exhibition of collages using cork. But do you know the behind story?
“In an exhibition, I found cork being used as an adornment for interiors. I approached the company and told them I find it interesting and would like to work with it. A year later, they called me. This was in the early 90s and hosting in exhibition in Taj built high expectations for me. But hardly anyone from the press came. I was very disappointed. We were told that another meet was being conducted at the same time in ITC Chola. The next day, The New Indian Express carried an article about it and soon, I got phone calls for interviews,” he smiles.
Since 2001, he has regularly been conducting exhibitions. We continued to talk about how he handles criticism and one critic in Bengaluru who dismissed his work calling it “cut and paste” made a whole lot of difference in his life.
“I was furious but after careful analysis, I understood what the critic meant,” he explains. “I began to use paper like paint. Of course, there is a little cut and paste in places but the majority of space is to look like a painting. Soon after, someone actually thought the waters in the background of the collage was actually paint! I was elated. I realised there is something beyond just pieces of papers; a third eye…”
Know Ramani Better
To learn more about his experiences, drop in at Odyssey for the Bliss Catchers event hosted by Avis Viswanathan at 7pm today. To check out Ramani’s work visit www.vvramani.com
Painting is something where you have the ability to create and visualise using your skills and translate your imagination. Collage is complicated. There is an image in place and you need to deconstruct and reconstruct it to create another image. It is challenging with a lot of surprise elements as you turn the magazine pages.