Chennai-based artist Narendra Babu talks about his upcoming solo exhibition, Surreal Dreams

Chennai-based artist Narendra Babu talks about his upcoming solo exhibition, Surreal Dreams

“There is a seamlessness to the landscape that flashes past when you are in a train; sometimes green, sometimes brown, and the blue skies,” says artist Narendra Babu. “I constantly capture whatever I see mentally and then relay that on to the canvas.”

Snatches of ‘From a Railway Carriage’ come to mind, but Narendra’s inspiration stems from childhood memories too. “My family left the city to settle in Anakaputhur when I was a boy. It was a village hamlet then, not the busy area it is now, close as it is to the Chennai Airport. I was fascinated by everything there — the trees, insects, birds, barnyard animals, the wide, open sky and my new friends. Life was both dream-like and spontaneous back then.”

Rural vistas apart, Narendra says watching his father at work helped hone his idea of composition. “He was a handloom weaver and I would watch the rhythmic motion of the loom as he worked. My mother would help too, gathering the material. It helped shape my understanding of linear design and beauty. There’s a warp and weft to our lives too.”

Artist Narendra Babu

Artist Narendra Babu
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Narendra got into textile design at the Weavers Service Centre with the Ministry of Textiles in Chennai. It was a job which took him to places such as Varanasi and Vijaywada. “I was always on the lookout for new designs and I found inspiration wherever I went — temple towns, traditional architecture, kalamkari art, colours, Iandscapes and, of course, the hills.”

The timelessness of his childhood memories and the endless views from his travels find their way onto Narendra’s work. Flowering plants and towering trees, animals and birds both imagined and real, share the canvas with people who seem to be part of a Technicolor dream sequence. While there is a sense of mythology coming alive through the eyes of a child, Narendra says some of his work also depicts modern, mechanical elements for a contemporary feel.

Today at 62, Narendra shuttles between his studios in Chennai and Kancheepuram. “I love to travel and do not want to be confined to one place. I would love to be free and roam like the birds and breeze,” he laughs, adding he wonders how the world below looks like to a bird on the wing.

Art from the Surreal Dreams series by artist Narendra Babu

Art from the Surreal Dreams series by artist Narendra Babu
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A student of the Government College of Arts and Crafts in Chennai, Narendra who has been painting for 40 years, says his medium of choice has been acrylics on canvas for the longest time, though he initially began with black-and-white sketches on paper. He credits his wife and daughter for their unfailing support throughout his career. “Without a woman’s help, a man can do nothing. I doubt I would have been able to paint as I have without their encouragement.”

Curated by Shirley Mathew, Surreal Dreams showcases around 30 canvases by Narendra, most of which were completed prior to the lockdown.

Surreal Dreams will be on at the MKF Museum of Art from October 14 to 29.

Art from the Surreal Dreams series by artist Narendra Babu

Art from the Surreal Dreams series by artist Narendra Babu
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Artist Narendra Babu

Artist Narendra Babu
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement



Source link

By Dipak

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *