The artist and her avian allure - The New Indian Express

The artist and her avian allure

Published: 20th November 2012 10:26 AM

Last Updated: 20th November 2012 10:26 AM

She’s never had a winged companion for a pet. Nor has the sky often been a place of inspiration. But put water colours and a brush in Gayatri Shantaram’s hand, and the avian forms that make their way on to her canvas seem as familiar as habit. “I don’t know what it is really, but birds just seem to come to me naturally,” says the artist. Chennai-born and presently Paris-based, Gayatri is back home for the festive season to do a little more than catching up with her family. She also intends to show off her many loves of avian fantasy via her latest collection of art pieces aptly titled, ‘Fly’.

The exhibition, inaugurated on Friday at the Focus Art Gallery at Alwarpet, showcases this artist’s perspective of exotic birds ranging from the majestic African Crested Crane to a rather muted Grey-Tinged Peacock. In the latter frame, it appears that all the colour meant for the feathers are encompassed in the background, rather than the bird itself.

“I like to give each of my birds a personality,” smiles the 26-year-old. She gestures toward what appears to be a rasp of guinea fowl, “See how it looks like they’re all interacting with each other?” Apparently, Gayatri’s fascination with birds began with this very rather awkwardly structured breed. It was back in school days when the family had a friend with a farm at Injambakkam. “I remember going there one day when I was 15 I think,” she recalls. “The size of their bodies compared to their heads was so disproportionate, it had me quite amused,” Gayatri smiles at the memory. And so her first bird sketch was drawn shortly after.

Fast forwarding by years of birdie doodling, sketches, web searches after every new breed discovery and painting aplenty; one can walk over to her largest avian canvas creation yet — a seven-foot-tall Japanese Crane in its pristine white glory, with majestic swirls of red for wings. Given her evident attachment to the animated feathered beings in her works, one wonders out loud: do they have names? Hopefully this isn’t too silly a question. But Gayatri laughs in response, and then says, “Truthfully if I did name them, (her birds) I would be too attached to give them away.” Sadly, the common crow is nowhere to be seen in this bird sanctuary born from a palette. Perhaps when her next showcase takes flight? “Actually, I’ve been thinking of doing a flamingo,” the avian artist responds with enthusiasm. Ah, the colourful ones always get the spotlight – don’t they? Dear Crow, you may just have to opt for blond streaks or a tattoo before you get you you’re 15 seconds of fame at an art gallery!

(Fly will be open on display at the Focus Art Gallery, TTK Road up to November 21. For details, contact 044 24986611.)

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