An artistic jugalbandi

‘Dialogue’ is a meeting point of Chippa Sudhakar’s established art practice and 14-year-old Ram Bahadur’s fresh take on art

Art transcends boundaries when it is inclusive. Imagine a jugalbandi between a trained artist of repute and an untrained but intuitive, budding artist. On the raw, rugged surface of wood, two artists paint in contrasting styles to present their perspectives on nature, urbanisation, and habitats.

Opening this weekend at Shrishti Art Gallery, Hyderabad, is Dialogue, a collaborative series between Chippa Sudhakar, one of Hyderabad’s well known artists, and Ram Bahadur, a 14-year-old boy from Nepal.

Lakshmi Nambiar of Shrishti terms it as a dialogue between the artist and the boy, a dialogue between the trained and the spontaneous, a dialogue between different viewpoints of nature. Some of Chippa Sudhakar’s large woodcut works will also be on display, but the highlight will be his collaboration with Ram Bahadur.

Chippa Sudhakar lives in the outskirts of Hyderabad, near Kismatpur, and has seen the urban jungle grow exponentially and usurp the peace and quiet of his neighbourhood, changing everything in its wake. His recent series, using wood and acrylic pigments, reflect his observations on urbanisation. One of the works features a large deer, offset by mosaic-like imagery of high-rise buildings. “There was a time I saw deers in Hyderabad’s outskirts, it’s unlikely today,” the artist tells us, amid overseeing the display of his artworks at the gallery.

  • ‘Dialogue’ opens at Shrishti Art Gallery, Jubilee Hills, on March 16; 6.30p.m. Delhi-based art patron Rahul Bhaswani will deliver a talk ‘A Collector’s Tale’. The exhibition will be on view till April 20.
  • Chippa Sudhakar has taken up the responsibility of funding Ram Bahadur’s education. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of artworks will go towards meeting education expenses of Ram and other students like him.

Sudhakar remembers the time he spent in agricultural fields while living enroute Nagarjuna Sagar, revelling in being close to nature. This region, too, has gone through a churn. “In my studio in Kismatpur, we have a large tree that attracts several birds during summers,” he says. His studio is an oasis surrounded by the concrete jungle. This change in urbanscape had an effect on his artistic outlook as well. At one point he hit an artist’s block.

From the Dialogue series

From the Dialogue series

A change in scenario came with the arrival of a watchman, who had moved to Hyderabad from Nepal. The watchman’s son, Ram Bahadur, observed art students at Sudhakar’s studio and showed interest in painting. Sudhakar observed the boy’s dexterity. Having grown up in the mountains, his choice of colours stood out. Encouraged by the artist, Ram began painting some details in Sudhakar’s works.

Sudhakar appreciates the freedom and playfulness in Ram’s strokes, which reflect the innocence and richness of the landscape in his village in Nepal. He saw the possibility of a collaboration.

Woodcut artwork by Chippa Sudhakar

Woodcut artwork by Chippa Sudhakar

At the gallery, disc-shaped woodcut works juxtapose Ram’s depiction of mountains, flora and fauna in a gamut of hues, with Sudhakar’s map-like, textured patterns on the wood surface. Showing us a disc in which the wood resembles parched land, Sudhakar asserts that it was intentional, to show the plight of land ravaged by unplanned urbanisation.

Sudhakar hasn’t had an exhibition of this scale in Hyderabad in the last five years, though his work has been showcased in other metros. Dialogue will eventually travel to other cities.

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