CHENNAI: It was the rediscovery of her roots that made interior designer and photographer Bhargavii Mani to come up with a project to document renowned artistes in the field of performing arts. In a tapestry woven out of art and the artiste who has dedicated himself/herself to the field, Arpana, a photo tribute, is the brain child of Bhargavii, who is the founder of Edge Design House.
Arpana will showcase the portraiture of 14 renowned artistes from the field of dance and music at Lalit Kala Akademi from December 22 to 28.
A series of portraits, capturing the artistes in action while they metamorphosise into the art, Arpana has danseuse Sudharani Raghupathy striking her famous kili pose, dancer C V Chandrasekhar in a dozen and more expressions without blinking his eyes and veteran vocalist R Vedavalli immersed in her music. Apart from them are Chitra Visweswaran, ghatam exponent Vikku Vinayakram, musician TV Gopalakrishnan, vocalists Sudha Raghunathan and Sriram Parasuram, the late Mandolin U Srinivas, his brother and mandolin player U Rajesh, Chitravina N Ravikiran, pianist Anil Srinivasan, bamboo flute exponent Shashank Subramanyam and T N Seshagopalan.
Talking about what inspired her to embark on a project like Arpana, Bhargavii recollects the journey that began almost five years ago. “I come from a lineage of artistes. My parental grand mother is the composer Kalaimamani D Pattammal, my great grandfather is Sangeeta Kalanidhi Veena Sabesh Iyer and his great grandfather was the asthanavidwan of Thanjavur palace Pallavi Duraisamy Iyer, the contemporary of Thyagaraja. When I went to The Music Academy and looked for Sabesh Iyer’s picture, I saw him pose in formal attire with a poker expression. I looked for other pictures and documentations; there was nothing. That set me thinking. Why aren’t our artistes being documented like the international artistes?” she says.
Bhargavii also saw it as an opportunity to demystify carnatic music, taking a thread from her own story of a trained classical vocalist who moved away from it because of it being complicated. She began holding Art at Edge at her studio. What started as a periodical event that had stand-up comedians, bloggers and bands taking part in it, the forum started picking up after Sriram Parasuram came to her studio. “Later, Ghatam Karthick suggested I talk to his guru Vikku Vinayakram. He responded to it with a lot of enthusiasm. Then I realised artistes wanted this kind of forum. So, one could say it is the meeting point of artiste needs, rasikas’ needs and social needs. Then I started thinking of portraiture,” she said.
Arpana, that will be open to public from December 23, will have a series of other events that will have artistes talk about their field. Arpana will also have events where artistes like Vikku Vinayakram will talk about his experience of collaborating with Mandolin U Srinivas, and his journey with Chatur Ghatam. On subsequent days, U Rajesh and Anil Srinivasan will touch upon the role the late musician played in their lives as a mentor and brother, and Sriram Parasuram will demystify how Srinivas adapted an Italian instrument to suit a carnatic format. On subsequent days, veteran artistes like Sudharani Raghupathy, CV Chandrasekhar and TVG will take audiences on their journey as artistes. A portion of the proceeds of the event will go to Tulir.
Art At Edge’s Arpana will be inaugurated by former CEC N Gopalaswami on December 22 at 4 pm.