Till February 17, The Madras Movement will have a place of pride at the Time & Space Gallery, Bangalore—an art house which was curated as an “experimental venture that sought to appreciate the esoteric and dynamic ethos of contemporary art” by Renuka George. The Movement’s core constituents and contributors include four artists—C Douglas, K Muralidharan, S Nandagopal and Rm Palaniappan—whose works are both distinct and diverse, yet coalesce together to represent a school of art and its resultant philosophy that has stood the test of time.
The exhibition is a culmination of nearly a year-long process that began with George evincing interest in presenting The Madras Movement, followed by a conversation with the artists and their coming together as a group to create and present new work that is reminiscent of the Movement’s core—linearity. Nandagopal says, “Line is integral to The Madras Movement.” Muralidharan explains, “There is colour and continuity within the line itself. To say it simply, line itself is a subject matter.”
Take for instance, Palaniappan whose art, Razia Tony writes, is an “expression of the Time-Space-Environment.” He claims he “needs the entire universe to create my drawing.” The result of that statement translates in an expression of a series of small mixed-media works that reflect the abstraction of the line, and its movements and emotions within the shapes.
Douglas’s art, on the other hand, and the series he is showing at the gallery, is an attempt of “observing the observed.” Muralidharan’s surrealist articulations whose subject matter is most often inspired by Indian mythology, continues that obsession with a series where gods and goddesses are placed in a different context; the resultant effect is a vibrant and vivacious work.
An acclaimed sculptor, Nandagopal’s work has acquired a quality of the distinct. As a series of continuation, and almost as if on a journey, the sculptor, who has also been trained as a painter, embarks on a path that is an interesting superimposition of the figurative on to the abstract. “The emphasis of The Madras Movement, in sculpture, you must know, is frontal as against third-dimensional or rounded.” He proceeds, in this series too, to continue to be fascinated by temple masts, signals and posts. “You can call it spirituality but it’s not spirituality of the religious kind, if you know what I mean. I’d like to call it religiosity.”
The sense of context and belonging that allows all their works to be placed under a common umbrella also stems from the fact that as peers and batch mates, they learnt their art and its techniques from common teachers. “That doesn’t mean that all our work is the same,” Muralidharan clarifies, “But definitely, there is a thread of community. That underlying philosophy that cuts through the work of these artists is the quality of the line itself. In it you’ll find a sense of the mathematical, lyrical, magical, mythical, surreal… To see, is to believe!”