Chennai Journal
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Artists of South India

On Friday night Marty and I went to a charity art auction at the Taj Coromondel sponsored for the Rotary Club that Marty is joining. Fifty one paintings were were put up for bid from leading artists around India. Most of them started at the equivalent of $1000 USD or more--some up to 1 lakh (about $2200) and were bid up to well over $5000 USD. While the art was interesting, none of it really grabbed us especially at those prices (albeit these were somewhat inflated since it was a charitable event). It was, however, a very nice gathering attended by a number of the local machers (movers and shakers, if you don't know Yiddish).

While we didn't buy anything at the auction, it did stimulate us to go back to our favorite art gallery here in Chennai, Lakshmi Ethiraj. Their eclectic collection ranges from artists who are just starting out to those of India's most famous, such as M.F. Hussain. http://www.mfhussain.com/. The last time we were there, we bought two prints from his limited edition series on Kerala (shown below). Today's exhibit featured three women artists who are members of the finance department of a local university. Their works were unusual and very reasonably priced, so we succumbed to buying three more pieces.

In addition to the lion painting above, we bought a wall hanging themed on the Hindu wedding ritual of the sapta-padi, or the seven steps that the bride and groom take together that are symbolic of the shared journey they are about to begin. The hanging is the culmination of this, showing both the bride and the groom and the hands and feet symbolic of the custom. It was part of a trip-tych of seven scrolls, and we felt a bit guilty about breaking up the set, but the lady at the gallery assured me that the artist would happily make another.

This artist draws on bamboo. On the left of the lion painting, which is by the same artist, you can see a small mirror--this is her way of including the viewer in the painting.

Below is the work of one of the other women, who mainly paints dancers. Even at this distance, you can see how well she has captured motion. With all this local talent, our art collection is sure to keep growing while we are here!

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