Canvases creating conversations

Vaanam Art Festival through its creative curation of paintings and sculptures has made sure that the stories of oppression, struggles and evolution are heard and re-told.

Published: 15th October 2022 08:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2022 08:40 AM   |  A+A-

Works of 22 artists are on display

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  The walls of Varija and Kadambari Art Galleries at DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum now have a lot of stories to tell — of oppression, struggles and evolution. Vaanam Art Festival through its creative curation of paintings and sculptures has made sure that these stories are heard and re-told. The ongoing festival presented by DakshinaChitra in collaboration with Neelam Cultural Centre, an initiative of filmmaker Pa Ranjith, celebrates Dalit art, literature and theatre.

Curating and questioning

Talking about the spirit of Vaanam and the impact it hopes to bring in society, Ranjith said, “The festival is a platform to create conversations based on artistic observations. It aims to paint a picture of the Dalit representation. It is difficult to understand the landscape, people and stratifications within India. Even though Shudras are placed in the lowest position, there exists the Panchamas, which is a community that is even oppressed by all the four structural divisions within the Varna system.

We need to think about where Dalit representation lies inside the non-Brahmin representation. Art, literature and everything in this festival is forms of rebellion, showcasing the pain and reality of the oppressed, and should be seen from that perspective. This art has its own dialogue, discourse and view. We should first understand that art and also look into its context. Only then it can have a greater understanding and impact.” The art exhibition curated by Natarajan Gangadharan displays paintings and sculptures of 22 artists. Natarajan, an artist for almost two decades, shared, “In society, art and literature often question the power structure — including politics, religion, language and gender. We intend to create a dialogue and question the existing power structure through these.”

Art speaking volumes
The works of artists including Malvika Raj, K Natarajan, Purushothaman T, Vengatesan B, and V Saranraj, presented the cruelties of caste-based oppression and questioned the prevalent inequality. Speaking about his works, Purushothaman said, “It is an initiative to raise questions against the dominance we are facing from various fields. In my paintings, through symbols like chirattai (coconut shell), which is a symbol of oppression as Dalits were forced to drink water from them or their hands instead of cups, I have tried to reflect what oppression was and is.”

The paintings of TRP Mookiah had the representation of dancers, the sport of Jallikattu, a celebration of the Pongal festival, a fight between horse riders, a protest march for independence, Christ carrying the cross and scenes of landscapes, a train passing through the village, goat fights, and representation of the eagle in a landscape — all of them created contrary to the solid power-packed human forms and animals of his sculptures.

The silhouettes of elongated figures by P Perumal depicted scenes from rural life. Through carefully considered stances, he gave his figures an air of innocence and peaceful strength.Sharing his views on art, Pa Ranjith summed up, “Art is not separate from man and is naturally present in everyone.”
The artworks are on display till October 30.

For details, follow @dakshinachitra_heritagemuseum, @vaanam_art_festival and  @neelamcultural on Instagram.



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