Artist Thota Vaikuntam extraordinaire
Artist Thota Vaikuntam is a man of few words, but his art speaks volumes. He is gearing up for his show, Bhaavanaatharangam — A Retrospective, that will be hosted in Mumbai, showcasing over 200 of his artworks. The works will first be on display at the Jehangir Art gallery from 16 to 21 November and then at India Fine Art from 22 to 29 November.
The exhibition will be worth a visit, especially to see how his work has progressed. “The changes were subtle, so when you notice the pattern of works over the decades, it is easier to tell,” he says. Apart from the paintings collected from friends and art connoisseurs, Vaikuntam’s sculptures will also be on display. “There was a time I created sculptures. But it was on the request of friends. I’ve created quite a few, but my love was painting, so I found my way back,” he says. Vaikuntam’s work continues to create ripples, but rarely does one get to witness a solo show by him. He explains, “Back in the day, I would create small paintings but now, the size of my canvas has increased and it takes longer to work. I find it easier to be a part of group shows.”
Vaikuntam started painting in the 70s and improved his work under the tutelage of professor, K.G. Subramanyan, who he called Mani da. “When I moved to the city, I did landscapes, visited railway stations and painted people, but when I met Mani da, he asked me what my USP was. It wasn’t until the early 80s that I found my calling,” he says.
In 1982, during a visit to his village to visit his ailing mother, Vaikuntam had an epiphany. He realized that he was greatly inspired by culture and pursued it. He says, “I never imagined the kind of success that I have seen today. I come from very humble beginnings and I’m very grateful that I still get to do what I love the most...create art.”
THE MAN BEHIND THE SHOW
Manvinder Dawer, partner of the gallery, India Fine Art, says it took a lot of time to put the show together. “We started planning in 2012, as getting an entire floor at the Jehangir Art Gallery is not easy. We had to get the artworks from various collectors and friends,” says Manvinder. He has also put together a book on the artist. “It’s a coffee table book that will be up for sale, and contains recorded conversations between Vaikuntam, his friends and family. A conversation between him and artist Suryaprakash will be there in the book. We have maintained the conversational tone to give you a glimpse into the kind of person Vaikuntam is, even at home,” says Manvinder.