HYDERABAD: Tiled houses, artistic furnishings surrounding fields—remember something? Transporting spectators back to their carefree childhood days, Anand Saastry masterfully captured the serene beauty of villages through a solo exhibition ‘Abodes of Admiration’. Enhancing the exhibition further, a workshop titled ‘Spectator is an artist too’ was conducted under the curation of Atiya Amjad, held at the Chitramayee State Gallery of Art recently.
It is evident that the aesthetic charm of the villages is vanishing gradually. Aiming to preserve the forgotten true beauty of villages for future generations, Anand Saastry, using mixed media, curated an enchanting experience for the audience unlike others. “As I was brought up in a rural area, I used to walk three-four kilometers from my home to high school, passing through scenic beauty, reptiles, trees, water, streams; all those things have kind of aesthetic sensations and I got inspiration from nature itself. We enjoyed all seasons, fog, rain, and the burning heat of summers as well. That may be the main reason to come into the art and continue to feel that later in high school stage,” elaborated Anand Saastry on his inspiration.
His first series titled ‘Tiled Dwelling of Narsingi’ showcases the allure of traditional homes constructed with terracotta tiles in the village of Narsingi near Hyderabad. This series offers an aerial perspective on the village’s daily hustle and bustle. Transitioning from figurative to abstract art, Anand Saastry gradually embraced darker hues to shed light on his subjects. Unlearning all his learning, he reverted to 2D artworks, meticulously detailing every aspect. He then delved into cubism, where he disassembled and reassembled paintings, a technique also known as joiner or collage.
When asked about his journey with art, he explained, “I did not leave drawing and painting at any stage of my life. I continued it after college studies. I learned geometry perspectives from our teacher T Venkat Rao. I like graphs and geometrical stuff. With that background, I started to paint human beings and whatever I see. I used to carry my sketchbook even to tourist places. Then I got a job in the State Bank of India and did not give up on my passion even then. The bank also encouraged me and gave me a special grant for 10 months. With that, I studied Bachelor of Arts and finished the Masters as well. Then I came to Hyderabad in 2005. I met senior artists here, like Rajeshwar Rao. I used to come to the galleries and accustom acquaintance with artists.”
Initially confusing, Anand’s artworks gradually unravel their essence, when viewers delve deeper into their meaning. He said that it at least takes two-three minutes of time to understand the core concept of the artwork. Elaborating on art and the workshop, Anand Saastry said, “Art for me is not a subject or the technique; it is the content. Only with deep involvement with the art piece can a spectator grasp it. My imagination, my experiences, everything can be seen in the content. And coming to the workshop, ‘The Spectator is an Artist Too’. I’m going to teach them developing content. Through this workshop, the audience will go through my experiences and the process of the artwork that I have presented.”
Sharing her perspective as a spectator, Atiya Amjad, curator of the show, said, “The initial driving factor was— a very clean, simple way of expressing and the handling of colours. Then, another format in his work, is the narrative -- although there are no human beings as such-- but there is a certain narrative when he is bringing in all these clusters of homes around. There is some kind of story happening. Another thing that I saw in his works, is the meditative aspect. The colour palette, how he had handled colour earlier, and how he graduated, and simplified certain things. Then he thought, like, let me do something more interesting and start cutting. And that’s a big dare. Nobody would want to cut their work. But he took that risk of cutting and then coming up with yet another visual, yet another aesthetics.”