An exhibition of paintings by V5
Danasegar, Ezhilarasan, Sridar, Vengatesan
Sept 7 – 24, 2016
One thing I have known and appreciated in India is the brotherhood among men, which is not as strong a custom in most of the Western countries. I was lucky enough about four years ago to discover this aspect of India when I went with a male partner on a two month long motorcycle ride with some Royal Enfield motorcycle ‘Bullet’ riders, who called themselves ‘Manipur Riders’, and who took us all over North East India, from Guhawati to their home in Imphal, through jungles in Moreh, mountains in Kolima, all the way to Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, through what was and might still be a dirt road. Spending so much time intensively on this adventure with them, and being the only woman, I discovered the world of Indian brotherhood and somehow, they also became my brothers, the kind who leave a deep karmic, soul trace.
Meeting Ezhilarasan, Danasegar and Vengatesan on the occasion of their ongoing exhibit in Kala Kendra, Auroville – all soul artist-brothers from Pondicherry – reminded me of those Bullet riders from Imphal, Manipur.
Going through the exhibition that they named ‘TOWARDS by V5’ (V5 meaning we 5 / Us 5) was like going through their wonderful brotherhood.
Apart from Vengatesh who is slightly older, they are all in their thirties, all married with kids, they have all met in art school and the love for art united them on a painting journey that gave birth to V5.
Though they all have this in common, their painting style is as different as who they are themselves, reflecting the complexity of the puzzle of being human.
The whole exhibition is tinted by their recent visit to Varanasi where emotions and visions were collected and brought back to canvas, each one with his own individual mind. The obvious is a fascination with water and women, both represented often with a dark power, with an undertone of admiration, mysticism and magic, in a Kali kind of way, mixed with the humility and awe that men can have sometimes before this species that they don’t quite know and understand.
For Ezhilarasan, most of the exhibit is about legs, fish, Maya, Kumbhamela and Varanasi. Legs, because according to him, they take you somewhere, fish representing water, and Varanasi being a place where you can learn about death and where everything always changes. There is no better symbol than Varanasi, it is a perfect metaphor for the impermanence of all things, and this city, he explained, left him with a deep impression.
Full of humour and with a light spirit, he explained to me why he gave the title of ‘green legs’ to an almost all black painting that had nothing to do with Varanasi, nor of (what I thought) a muslim woman. “I wanted to paint a woman who wants to walk alone without any thinking on her mind; the legs are green because they are soft and they have never seen the sun.” Green legs, black legs, or red legs, you will exercise and walk with the imagination of your mind, wherever it takes you….
As for Danasegar, his art is abstract with a big A, and when I thought I saw what could be a Buddha overlooking an industrial city, his answer was that he did not remember what he had in mind and never does. His slogan is “I paint and I forget”…..
With Vengatesh and Sridar we are going to another realm.
Sridar’s oils and acrylic will often remind you of tales, sometimes surrealistic, even if the representation of his beloved wife and cherished village are in a more realistic style. You will have a taste of Tamil landscape and culture tinted with a Chagall background, which makes the whole thing original, informative and touching.
And as for Vengatesh, his paintings are the core of Varanasi. You will go through ‘River Steps’ to Ganga Devi’ to ‘Ashy evening’ and ‘Benares’, through colourful, textured paintings, representing often attractive women, sometimes winged, sometimes naked, intermingled with cats, or what could be Egyptian or African symbols, mixed with Krishna temples, birds, an eagle God, and boats. Most of them are strikingly beautiful, like Kali on the Ganga, or the one representing a dream with a goat and stars, and especially ‘Ashy evening’ with its sensual black woman against a smoky-tone version of sky and river.
Whether you are a lover of Varanasi or not, your imagination will run wild as you walk with Vengatesh into this magical, mysterious and powerful city and you will understand then why the gurus say that even if the world has to be destroyed, Varanasi is cosmically eternal.
This article was written by Chana Corinne Devor for Auroville Art Service. Presently exploring Auroville, she is an art critic and writes for international travel and spiritual magazines.
photos of the opening by Marco Saroldi