BANGALORE: The number 1001 is synonymous with the famed collection of tales ‘the Arabian Nights’; Queen Scheherazade’s story telling that went on for one thousand and one nights in order to avoid being executed by her paranoid husband King Shahryar, who eventually did spare her life.
However, artist Santhosh Kotagiri’s collection of art exhibited as ‘1001 nights’ is anything but a reflection of the Persian queen’s craftiness. Painted with mixed media on a canvas and cardboard, the artworks are Kotagiri’s collection of artistic fervour. As the curator of the gallery, Dr Avani Rao describes the work as “the artist’s alter ego unfolding in the pictorial his innermost dreams and desires, aspirations and delusions”, one can see it in the 110 paintings that hung on the wall.
but most strikingly, the deepest aspect that the paintings and drawings convey are the artist’s attempt to reconnect with the child within. His choice of colours — gold and silver paint, charcoal and black paint for sketches — keep the paintings minimalistic yet loud in their own way. His subjects mostly revolve around man, woman and animal.
Tending to the more abstract nature of art, some of his canvases lack a finite form yet at the same time hint at a shadow of what can be. Predominantly, the form of an owl, nude images of a man and woman, a dog or perhaps a cow, plants and clouds make up the space of the canvas.
As one passes by the walls dotted with frames that hold together Kotagiri’s imagination, what stands out most is the variety of styles — both the strongest and the weakest point of the exhibition. The landscape that the artist tries to create with his various textures, while surreal, stands him in good stead. However, the same surreality doesn’t do much to lend an artistic sense to the abstract figures.
With some rather disjointed and seemingly mis-matched subjects, 1001 nights isn’t just art for art’s sake, it’s art for the artist’s sake. 1001 nights are on display at the Icon Art gallery at Road No. 12, Banjara hills till January 28.