When you hear the title of the show, it’s possible you are expecting something that dwells upon the religious spirit of an artist. However, ‘Divine Bovine’ suprises you by combining the contemporary and tradition in equal measure, blurring the lines between the two.
The bull can serve as a representation of many things. If on one hand it stands for divinity as propagated by the Vedantas that states that there is divinity in every creation, it also stands for the strongest emotions and traits like ego and strength. Taking through the many representations with a consistent religious backdrop, Divine Bovine by P Elanchezhiyan is a fascinating glimpse into the artist’s expansive firmament.
He banks a lot on his childhood inspiration that comprises religious connotations and cultural encounters, be it the Thiruvasagam that has broadly been influenced by the artist’s devotion for Lord Shiva. or jallikattu that speaks of the rural charm of villages in Tamil Nadu.
Dabbling in bronze which is an integral part of Tamil Nadu’s arts as a material, his works are detailed and descriptive as they are abstract and open-ended. From the elements to the texture, however, the eye for details and tones is matchless. Etching the transcripts of the Thiruvasagam, Elanchezhiyan makes an attempt to recreate the religious fervour that are characterstic of the hymns composed originally during the peak of the Bhakti Movement.
The raas leela in its enchantment, the taming of the bull and the various bull forms are captured with each of their innate characterstics.
Coming from the hub of sculptures and the land that has possibly generated the maximum number of sthapathis, Elanchezhiyan's contribution to the field is commendable.
An alumnus of the Kumbakkonam College of Fine Arts, Elanchezhiyan says that his works have always been a page from his memories of his village in Tiruvarur, where he spent his childhood. He has showcased his works in shows at the Lalita Kala Akademi, both in Delhi and Chennai and the Cholamandal Artists’ Village. The artist insists that though his works are contemporary, there is a blend of tradition and culture in his approach.
He says, “Every work I have created is inspired by those memories and the practices I follow. Being a Shiva devotee, I wanted to pay an ode to my belief and through art I can express it in the best possible way.”
The artist adds that he has sought to add a new dimension in his works by substituting the man with a woman in the works that show the taming of the bull.
(Divine Bovine is on at Forum Art Gallery, 57, 5th Street, Padmanabha Nagar, Adyar till July 31. Contact 044 4211 5596)