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Celebrating the many hues of Ganesha

| MANJU SUBHASH CHANDRAN
Published : Aug 11, 2016, 12:19 am IST
Updated : Aug 11, 2016, 12:19 am IST

What is it about the Lord Ganesha that not only evokes devotion, but also a feeling of affinity It could be his pot-bellied rotund physique or the uncanny elephant head that adorns his human body.

What is it about the Lord Ganesha that not only evokes devotion, but also a feeling of affinity It could be his pot-bellied rotund physique or the uncanny elephant head that adorns his human body. Probably, the rather amusing circumstances of his birth belie the supernatural that envelops other deities. For many artists depicting the affable elephant god is an expression of their desire, emotions and faith.

Even as other gods are confined to iconography, with Lord Ganesha, an artist seldom dithers to digress. Hence, Ganesha can be a musician, a cricketer, a dancer, or even take the form of other deities such as Krishna or Shirdi Sai Baba.

Kalasiddhi, an exhibition by 14 artists, explores the freewheeling aspect of Lord Ganesha.

Each artist uses a distinct medium to highlight a singular interpretation of Lord Ganesha

“He is the only deity without a human face. You can create any form by retaining the elephant face and the disproportionate body and people will recognise it,” says artist Arun Amberkar, on why Lord Ganesha is a favourite for experimentation.

Amberkar creates his Ganesha sculptures from wood.

Having a predilection for teakwood, he chooses his blocks meticulously. Factoring in wood grain that would work to his advantage, he chips out only the bare essential to keep his craft minimalist. The result is strong but unassuming carvings set against the bare simple jute cloth. Amberkar sticks to the basics. Like the wood, Lord Ganesha is tough, and like the jute cloth he is unpretentious, yet elegant. The humble artwork is perhaps the artist’s own notion of how worship can be no frills, no ado.

Anil Londhe uses the medium of metal and fibre and gives his sculpture a granite tenor. The singular aspect of his work is the direction of Ganesh’s trunk.

Thus the myriad monikers associated with the God becomes the basis for his work. For the devotee Ganesha assumes multiple roles in his life. The trunk with its glistening metallic finish on fibre reminds us of how the God has become a glorious presence.

Anish Wakade likes to keep it conservative and uses watercolours to paint the traditional. Additionally, with beautiful, tender and graceful crowquill strokes, he puts into use his calligraphy.

Ever heard of conceiving images after meditating Anjali Raju excels in that. Her acrylic paintings on canvas create form out of formlessness; and this form hovers around Lord Ganesha. Raju eschews the popular for the philosophical. Her “metaphysical” paintings as she puts it are the product of Sahaja Yoga meditation. A few curved lines depict the Durva grass, a favourite of the Ganesha; for Raju he is the Swastika itself. Depicting the four strands of grass in as many directions, her painting, titled Durvaankur Swastika, is a surreal presentation of the Mooladhara.

For Raju, Ganesha is also about the purity and innocence. Her Viraata Ganesha exhorts to activate this purity and become one with the pure energy of the Universe.

Another artist who explores the innocence of Lord Ganesha is Vivek Prabhukeluskar.

Every person is a child at heart. Through his series of Bal Ganeshas, Prabhukeluskar depicts the relationship of the God with his vahana (vehicle) the mouse, which is the subject matter of his acrylic and water-colour paintings.

So, one sees Bal Ganesha and the mouse performing the Surya Namaskar, the little mouse combing Bal Ganesha’s hair after his bath, the mouse selecting the lotuses for pooja, and the little Ganesha playing the damru; all reminding us of our own childlike leanings. Prabhukeluskar uses vibrant colours yet keeps them gentle to remind us that childhood is an effervescent, carefree process.

Balkrishna Girkar, an experienced artist from Konkan, derives his inspiration and ingredients from the soil itself. He creates a mud base on the canvas he works on and then draws his other colours from a spectrum of earth tones to paint his version of Lord Ganesha. The undertones cannot be missed. Lord Ganesha is elementary, down-to-earth.

Chandrashekhar Barve through his origami transforms simple paper into delightful images of the God. Barve is flamboyant in his use of colours and bright green, yellow, red, blue make his paperwork striking.

Deepali Parab exquisitely blends terracotta clay in her paintings along with other mediums, while Prasanna Chury makes sculptures in the Siporex medium. Siporex is a light weight concrete block used for construction. Churi mixes it with copper-brass foil, wood and glass to achieve sterling effects.

Rekha Bhiwandikar forms a fusion using Madhubani and Warli styles. Though Madhubani is a time-honoured tradition, Bhiwandikar adds a dab of her own. By depicting the Ganeshas in the form of Lord Krishna, Vitthal and Brahma, among others, Bhiwandikar associates her Ganesha with all that is divine.

Four simple strokes! That’s all Sachin Parelkar needed to etch his imprint. The four artistic lines are made complete with a bright pink hibiscus, the only colour in an otherwise blend of gold, silver hues that lends the picture a classy demeanor.

According to Parelkar, the four lines represent the four directions and the four Vedas.

Shubha Samant’s work on paper and acrylic is unique because she allows her raw material to determine her creation. Samant makes the paper pulp right from scratch and in the ensuing paper contours she tries to visualise her Ganesha.

With the use of dazzling acrylic colours she then completes the look.

Sunil Pujari’s paintings on canvas in acrylic is a celebration. The paintings titled vigour, gratitude, ecstasy, curiosity, evoke the various emotions associated with the Lord, right from his making to his worship culminating in the sarvajanik celebrations of the Ganesh festival.

Ancient sculptures are Vijayalaxmi’s muse. Vijayalaxmi’s single tone paintings recall the traditional stone and wood carvings and are pleasing to the eyes.

“I like the drama of the light,” says Vijayalaxmi, whose work thrive on the play of light on ancient sculptures, giving it a mystic aura.