Once a young signboard painter from rural Garidepally in Telangana, Anjaneyulu G sports a nostalgic air. “Signboard painting is mostly commercial now—a far cry from the days when inspired artists created glorious pieces of art on tin sheets with enamel paint. They combined artistry with skill, and skill with earning,” he says.
This difficult but realistic portrayal forms the psychological matrix of Anjaneyulu’s art. The Taj Mansingh in Delhi in association with Art Alive Gallery, unveiled some of the works by the celebrated artist. The exhibition, titled ‘Collections and Recollections’ is on till October 15. He says, “Spectators who view the pieces will relate to them in specifically individual ways with distinct perspectives.”
The work makes a definitive rural statement, inspired by the bucolic days of Anjaneyulu’s childhood and associated memories. “My show includes objects of daily use in rural India interpreted in a contemporary fashion,” he says.
As with every creative individual his art was forged in the subconscious of his childhood remembrance. Anjaneyulu was fascinated with the collection of ostensibly useless items his grandparents had foraged— rusty boxes, threadbare shawls, a broken down radio and a useless mirror. In frugal panic, where poverty was a neighbour, the two were like magpies hoarding any object that may come of use.
Once the grandson graduated from JNT University of Fine Arts, Hyderabad, Anjaneyulu started work on still life like stainless steel jugs, milk cans and kettles. He realised there was no need to search for artistic objects; they are everywhere. In 2015, he exhibited 14 still life paintings in acrylic and oil; of steel objects standing on multicoloured geometric and dotted tablecloths in a collection named ‘Astonishing Expendables’. At his solo exhibition titled ‘Here, Now and Then’ held at the India Art Fair in New Delhi from February 9 to 12, Anjaneyulu’s rural gestalt was obvious in the art of portraying a soda cart, bicycle, lantern, mancham (cot) and even thorns.
A typical aspect of the former signboard painter's work is, of most of the paintings that takes him 30 to 45 days to finish, have a white background. He believes in the effect of curiosity on art. Even now he goes through the “six stages of mourning”, when he feels his vision not translating perfectly on canvas. Still life art represents “the mundane in a new light”. The acclaimed ‘realistic’ artist believes each image evoked by poignant memories is a result of a “fleeting moment of a surrealistic out-of-body experience. As I cannot put down these feelings on canvas, I do the next best thing—recreate them on the canvas as I see or saw it in my mind’s eye.”
So, how easy, or difficult is the process? “The short answer is: 99 percent perspiration, and 1 percent inspiration. It starts with the struggle of positioning a subject or object perfectly, choosing the canvas, deciding on the lighting and then sketching it. Then he begins to finish it part by part or layer by layer.
“Like the poet said, nothing is beneath art—a match stick, a piece of soap or a puppy. I like objects with interesting details like the small bits of unravelled fibres from colourful plastic bags. I just happen to catch the message.” His medium has got the message right.