Splashes of blue, grey, and white greet you on entering Gallery Veda. ‘Factual Fictions’, an exhibition of a collection of paintings, by 40-year-old VG Venugopal, examines man’s relationship with nature. The images express his journey from small towns and villages, and how he views the cityscape. “There are totally 28 pieces of art works, including the large ones (acrylic on canvas) and water colours. This is my first solo exhibition in Chennai and third, overall. I am quite excited. I have tried to mix the abstract and realistic concepts that examine the city’s precarious development. I have largely dealt with the perennial theme of migration, which is the history of mankind,” says Venugopal.
As our conversation progresses, the artist explains the inner philosophy behind his art works. He questions, “Have we, in the pulls and strains of modern life, lost touch with our inner selves?”
Having displayed his art works both here and abroad — in places like National Exhibition of Arts, Lalit Kala Akademi (New Delhi), Colombo, Japan, and so on, Venugopal has also been involved in teaching Visual Arts as a visiting faculty in various institutions since 2004.
“I have completed my MFA in Printmaking from Chitrakala Institute of Advanced Studies. I work with urban images, and they are reflections of how people are isolated in this world,” he adds. Venugopal smiles, “Paintings are the most direct expression of an artist. I see myself more of a storyteller who creates magic on canvas. Take any artwork for example; it conveys stories of people, capturing the essence of life. The art is always about people, right? Look at the present milieu, our present-day social relationships. Nevertheless, I always had the visual hunger to learn about art and read up on art history, try out new techniques,” he muses.
Interestingly, the artist says he looks up to senior artists like Sudhir Patwardhan, Jagannath Panda and Manjunath Kamath a lot. “Before I moved to Bengaluru, I’ve travelled to many places. My paintings are a result of those first hand changes that I observed,” he says.
While many artists paint off-the-cuff, Venugopal says he does homework and background work before starting. “The preparatory process involves some doodling, sketching and drawing or clicking pictures or documenting ideas just like a diary. I knew that I would do whatever necessary to teach myself to be an artist. I started reading about art and visiting local artists. I would hang around the nearby places. But in any case, the art works are evolving,” he concludes.