In Pursuit Of Meditative Harmony

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“My Buddha emits positive energy, and the same aura of peace began reflecting in the faces of women that I paint with eyes closed in meditation,” says artist MG Doddamani, in an interview, on the sidelines of his Solo Show in Bengaluru to Ranjani Govind for The Balcony Stories.  

The veteran in the world of art, MG Doddamani, has the 25th Solo show of his paintings, ‘Introspective Meditation’ going on (till March 27) at MKF Museum of Art Lavelle Road, Bengaluru. As the senior artist completes 30 years of wielding his passionate brush, his love for curating shows that he has shown an equal affinity. Doddamani, who until 2001 had his own gallery, ‘Images’ near Infantry Road, says, “I love to curate shows as it gives me a renewed energy to work towards having a thematic show. It is one more branch of work getting channelized into finer imaginative outpourings.”

Doddamani, who has won several awards, including the Central and State Lalit Kala Academy, was also amongst the visiting faculty at several well-known art universities, including the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. His works are part of several government museums and private and public collections globally.

Amongst Doddamani’s novel showcasing include his assemblage of poets and musicians, and artists to share and experience their creativity. He brought together 250 artworks under one roof to celebrate India’s 50th Independence in the late 1990s with master artist G.Venkatakkapa’s works. “When I came down as a young 23-year-old artist to Bengaluru, I never imagined my life would throw up challenges of curating nearly 400 art shows and exhibitions. Looking back, it seems a dream come true,” says Doddamani, who spoke to BalconyStories in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts from the interview

It looks as if the lockdown gave you enough time to experience a different kind of introspection. How did 30 paintings come forth for your solo show?

During the pandemic lockdown, the entire world brimmed with saddened news, everyone hoping and praying to get out of the situation safe and sound. I had a lot of free time on hand, but there was no space for creativity. The turmoil had made me worry not only about my family and friends but the human race on this earth. After settling in with the new schedule and household chores and trying to snatch some strands of hope, I went back to my art as a way of meditation. I spent more time on my art every day, trying to reflect on the positive thoughts and the reclaiming nature around me.

We hear you helped your friends get to the brush for a purpose!

While I was finding solace in my artworks, I was checking on my artist friends around me. To keep them engaged, I curated an online drawing show with ‘Oorja Expressions.’ Drawing is the basic art form, and I wanted artists to have a feeling of starting afresh with drawings. The show received a good response, and it was successful in bringing in more engagement within the art community.

Is your ongoing ‘Introspective Meditation’ a thematic show? What were your flowing thoughts?

“Introspective Meditation” is a series of artworks created in my journey of meditation. The Golden Light series is about Buddha’s thoughts and learnings shining on us, while Peace is about the humans who find peace and harmony within themselves. The Beyond series is about balancing humans and nature, trying to help nature and other animals reclaim the space they lose.

Comment on your line drawings in the ‘hands series’ that are attention-grabbing and poignant …

These realistic works from the “Hands” series express human emotions just through their hands. The helplessness, patience, agony, the need for support, trust, everything can be observed in those hands. Hands speak a lot, and these emotions are easily understood and reciprocated.

Comment on the variety- medium you have used and the colors brought in?

I have used various mediums for my artworks – graphite, charcoal, soft pastel, and acrylic on acid-free paper or canvas. Every medium has its own characteristics, and we can bring its whole essence if we select the right medium suitable for the kind of work we are doing. Most of my works have many colors merging in, bringing the subject to the right level of focus and attention.

Your inspirations have been too many, your creative parents in your childhood and the extra push at Shantiniketan where you studied?

I was born in Kannuru, Gulbarga, in a farmer’s family. My mother was an outstanding folk singer, and my father was exceptional at creating handmade ornaments for the bullocks. I observed his art while growing up and had an influence and interest in art. I wanted to become an art teacher by completing BFA, but it took a major turn when I got selected for studying at Shantiniketan. It was too overwhelming when I first landed in the bustling city of Kolkata, but I found the Shantiniketan campus welcoming, and I could soon find my connection. My art teachers KG Subramanyan, Sanath Kar, Somnath Hore, Lalu Prasad Shaw, were friendly and caring, and they did contribute to my inspired feeling, apart from some international artists.

Explain your line of students you have developed at your studio in Indiranagar; only students will help take a style?

I have been teaching art for many years, and my students are as little as 10-year-old to 90-year-old. My students’ works get selected in State and National Lalit Kala Academy competitions and help them participate in various exhibitions. I also help students create portfolios, and a lot of them get selected in prestigious design schools like Rhode Island School of Design, Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the like.

You may have had several recognitions in your three-decade professional life, but what are those memorable ones you would love to go back to?

During my student days at Shantiniketan, an art dealer used to visit and check the artists’ and students’ works. She saw some of my works and immediately bought five of them. More than money, the appreciation she had for my work was priceless, even as she bought my sketchbook too! Another incident happened in 1995 National Kala Mela held in Bangalore. A gentleman named Kamal Kapoor, the REX Theatre owner, liked my work so much that he bought it right away and searched for me for almost three years in galleries and art shows to get in touch with me.

You always wanted to do public installations; this way, you think people can get more access to your work?

I wanted to work on installation projects so that people see them, interact with them, create art-awareness, and get inspired. Public installations reach more people and make art easily accessible to everyone. Artworks confined to galleries and houses cannot reach their potential audience and miss the opportunity to interact with them.

(Solo Show by artist Doddamani, till  March 27, MKF Museum of Art, Lavelle Road, Tuesday to Sunday / 9019276294)


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