April 06, 2024 - April 30, 2024

Seemollanghhana: Transcending Limits

"Dr. Vijay Siddramappa Hagargundgi is one such creative genius who has been inching his way into the unknown through his art which is an epitome of Surapura aesthetics. It has transcended style and challenged societal conventions and constructs.

Most of the thirty-odd artworks in this exhibition comprise of Vijay's miniature format line drawings of black ink on paper. Each of the folios are of 14 x 20 cm size and the drawings, within, are much smaller. A few layers of black lines become the delimiting frame which is sometimes breached by the characters of his drawings. A swish of a tail, a little gesture of a hand, a dancing leg, a tilting crown, sometimes an entire figure of accompanying entourage, a lightly held weapon or a billowing fabric gently breaks out of the confines of the lines of the rectangular space as if defying the rules and venturing, almost surreptitiously, into an uncharted territory.

Defying norms is the way of life for Vijay. At first glance, a tall, lanky Vijay seems to be shrinking in the presence of strangers, but that is his way of cloaking his true self which bursts out of the forced confines, into a live wire of wit, laughter and rich knowledge of experience, among friends. In a way, he challenges the society to accept him as he is, with all his wisdom and warts.

Early on in life, he embraced art education despite his father's disapproval. His mother’s silent support gave him strength to take on the world. He travelled to Shantiniketan to learn art but got disenchanted as soon as he landed there and turned back as fast. He learnt his art and techniques from unconventional quarters but went a step further and made them his own. He explored the possibilities of art by scaling unexplored depths; this is evident in his masterpieces.

For Vijay, the process of creating art is organic and highly subjective. The subjects he chooses are firmly anchored in the subaltern retellings of Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, et al. For example, in the painting ‘Bhagirata Maatarau’, Vijay has chosen the episode from Krittivasa Ramayana which narrates the birth of a child from the union of two widowed queens of Dileepa.

Another drawing, ‘Priya Sakha’ explores the fluid and organic relationship between Partha and Vasudeva which has been sung by Purandaradasa, “varisalu ariye arjunanante sakhanagi...” (I do not know how to love you, like Arjuna...), a few centuries ago. By illuminating little-known stories from regional retellings and devotional songs based on epics, Vijay explores the liminal spaces in Indian literature which abound in examples of characters which bend the artificial constructs of mainstream society. This gives his art a rare strength to break away from being a mere object of beauty and transform into a sublime force that can forge the backbone of a newer and more inclusive society.

Let us take a virtual peek into the studio of Vijay and the process of how he creates his art. Rough sketches in pencil start as wiggly, unsure lines on scraps of paper. After a few iterations, they get transferred onto a neat paper where the actual lines appear firm and confident as if the lines were meant to be there, since forever. As Vijay is completely lost in his lines, the lilting voice of Shobha Gurtu breaks the silence in waves of Dadra, "Rangi saari gulaabi chunariyaa re..." As the beautiful face is unravelling on the paper, the profile, hair held up in a bun, the traditional jewellery (Vijay calling them by their names as he is drawing them, bugudi, jhumki, olay, etc.), the blouse (kuppasa), the Rangampet saree (chaturanga chikki pattern), many tattoos (hacchay) on bare parts of the body, the body in lyrical motion - everything starts emerging on the paper as if conjured by a pen wielding magician. He stops only when he is satisfied.

The selection of subjects that Vijay has created for this exhibition might seem to be eclectic but has a subtle thread of narrative stringing them together. This thread is the idea of transcending the limits - be it either man-made or that of nature."

- H.S. Dharmendra, Curator