Where elegant mansions adorned with bougainvillea vines, merged with pavements of flagstone — that’s the Bangalore Rumale Chennabasavaiah (1910 to 1988) recognised. Capturing the beauty of nature, the artist transcended all boundaries with his unique style. With the focal point of most his paintings being nature, the artist took pride in adding new dimensions to his art work. Bridging the gap between art and spirituality, Rumale continued to explore various themes in multihued textures. Paying a tribute to one of India’s most eccentric modern artists, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) is hosting an exhibition of his paintings titled Varna Mythri — Rumale Chennabasavaiah Centenary Retrospective
till January 31.
This is the first systematically curated, documented and designed exposition of the artist in the country.
Though Rumale was a phenomenal watercolourist; the simplicity of each pictorial element in his paintings deserves much appreciation. As patches of luminous shades breathed life into the Garden City of yesteryears, the artist’s vision of capturing unity in art strengthened further. He adopted a technique -- one that involved the merger of artistic intricacy and spiritual enlightenment.
Through dynamic forms and delicate brushstrokes, he managed to add character and consistency to various layers. As K C S Paniker, Principal, Government College of Arts and Crafts rightly said of Rumale’s famous Pump Shed (1947) — They are the painter’s testimony to man’s innate love of the beautiful in man’s imagination or vision.
And with Varna Mythri, the ‘landscape’ artist captured his own obsession by achieving a literal and metaphorical harmony through his art. The rich composition and vigorous interaction of colours in this piece transport the viewer to a different realm of existence. From fiery gulmohars to the lustrous jacarandas, Rumale often drew inspiration from his surroundings. In fact, some of his works resembled Van Gogh’s post impressionistic styles. The artist immortalised the beauty of Bangalore with his paintings. Aside from experimenting with innovative techniques and encouraging diversity in art, he also believed in a democratic approach towards the evolution of art in India.
Among his art work displayed, the paintings that deserve special mention include Reflections, Hampi (1966), Kaveri-Kanive Halla, Talakaveri (1986), Tree in Bloom, K R Circle (1983), K R Circle Bangalore— A collage (1979), Varna Mythri (1967), Unknown Soldier Statue, opposite GPO (1978), Gul Mohar and Bamboo Groove (1984), Poincettia in Bloom, Old Alankar Talkies (1966), Flame of the Forest (1980), Bell Flowers near Cricket Stadium (1980), Yellow Bloom and Jacaranda High Court (1985), Bougainvillea on St Peter’s Seminary, Malleswaram (1973), Pampasarovara, Pond of Penance, and Portrait of Sanjay Kabe (1972).