K Laxma Goud does not believe in working in a particular medium. “If you leave me in a jungle, I can find my medium,” he says. The Padma Shri awardee from Telangana demonstrated versatility of his artwork through an exhibition titled ‘Inner Retrospective’ at the Lalit Kala Akademi in Chennai from November 16 to 21. The solo retrospective, comprising 100 prints, paintings, drawings and sculptures, depicted his growth as an artist in the past six decades.
Although Laxma has never held a proper retrospective, his creations speak about an inner conversation through the long journey as an artist. Once in a while he looks anew at what he did in a certain way in the early days. The different techniques open new forms and ethos that impact mutually. His show exhibited Laxma’s new interpretations and reinventions.
Be it water colours, drawings, clay or any other medium, the learning process has been imbibed from our ancestors, says the 77-year-old. “The works showcased here are a testimony of my development and speak about my engagement as an artist.”
With his fascination for the rural landscape, the imageries come from the varied experiences as an insider, who probes the village with a fierce frankness and sensitivity. His characters wearing familiar clothes, ornaments, gestures and a rough but exuberant spirit are not individuals but embodiment of rusticity.
“My inquisitiveness and things around me lead to a variety of works. I am not an abstract painter. I look at the rural landscape, men, women, the lifestyle, the culture and so many other aspects in our environment for inspiration,” says the artist, who completed his Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the Government College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad, in 1962.
He studied mural designing, painting and drawing from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda under Prof K G Subramanyan (1965). “I worked with him for one-and-a-half years and further consolidated my artistic abilities,” he says.
After this, he joined Doordarshan Hyderabad as a graphic artist. “I worked there during a period when there were no computers. We used to work on issue-based programmes related to women and children, farm labourers, etc., catering to the backward areas of Hyderabad and Karnataka. My role as an artist was quite challenging. We created TV programmes that could bring a change in a backward area riddled with problems of mortgaged farms and other issues,” says Laxma, who has had solo exhibitions in India and Europe. He has been a part of major group shows in New York, London, Brazil, Delhi, Mumbai and
“The 15-year journey at Doordarshan was extraordinary. Sitting in my studio, I enjoyed working even on holidays,” says Laxma, who left Doordarshan in 1998 to join Hyderabad University and worked there till 2001. “My days in the university involved training younger people. I was invited to set up the Post Graduate Fine Arts College, now called the Sarojini Naidu School of Performing Arts and Communication, and retired as the dean in 2001.”
Laxma’s works are part of several collections in private and public museums across the world. He has been honoured with several prestigious awards.
“Coming from a rural background, my skills were used where we made bowls from clay, wood, cotton, twigs, etc. In fact, children were amazed at the ideas that sprang out of simple, natural materials. We used a lot of village craft and folk theatre such as Byalaatta and Yakshagana for our programming. Working there was reality and it was for a social cause. I engaged young artists and government also used this expertise to reach out to people. We had to work for a purpose, concept and the limitation was it was all in black and white. In fact, I was a black and white artist, known for print-making and the discipline for B&W was responsible for developing my vision that played a vital role in communication.”