Calligraphy artist Parameshwar Raju’s recent series ‘In Divine Rhythm’ draws from mythology and beyond

There’s a lyrical rhythm with which Hyderabad-based artist Poosapati Parameshwar Raju uses pens and nibs of different sizes to draw alluring crimson red calligraphic forms on paper. The artist is recognised for his minimalistic narratives of stories from mythology. In Divine Rhythm, a new exhibition that showcases 95 of his recent works, opened online (art.kunstmatrix.com/) as part of the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2022 and will be on view all this month.

The exhibition offers an insight into a wide range of his work – stories from the Puranas, the epics, Buddhism, Christianity and the illustrations of Aum, to name a few. The calligraphy featured in this exhibition will also be a part of a forthcoming book penned by curator Koeli Mukherji. “The book will be a deep dive into his life, tracing his journey from childhood and attempting to trace the evolution of his style of calligraphy. He is a man of few words and hence, while his imagery is widely recognised, not many know what shaped his work,” says Koeli.

Parameshwar Raju spent the pandemic-induced lockdowns neck-deep at work. The result is a new series on Adi Ganesha, Ramayana and the Aum; he also reworked a 2013 series depicting the story of Jesus: “I had done a Story of Jesus series for an exhibition in Delhi in 2013. When I revisited them, I felt the need to tweak the images. The new drawings are complex with more elements. This story had to look and feel different to represent a different era and community.”

Pictorial narratives in calligraphy

For those who are familiar with his oeuvre and his extensive illustrations of any series, be it the Ramayana, the Puri Jagannadh series, the Dasavatara or the Shiva Purana, it might appear as though he works on a series from start to finish, resting only when he has completed narrating a story. However, the artist discloses that his approach is non-linear: “I read up on a topic and think of how I can narrate an event in a simplified calligraphic form. Once I get the hang of how the nib has to move for a character, I add elements to give the series a distinct texture. I may not work on a series at a stretch.”

He cites the example of how he began drawing the Aum and it lent itself to a series on Hanuman: “I was drawing the different representations of Aum and stumbled upon how I could work on the form of Hanuman.”

A drawing of the Nandi and an image of Hanuman in the court of Ravana are examples of his minimalistic works. On the contrary, there are other richly detailed stories. The calligraphy depicting Kartikeya flying on a peacock to circumnavigate the world while Ganesha circumnavigates his parents Shiva and Parvathi as sage Narada watches on, is an example.

Pictorial narratives in calligraphy

Devoid of facial features and expressions, it is left to the bold calligraphic strokes to convey the emotion, and they do so evocatively. An image of Ganesha dancing and playing the drum is joyous to behold.

A retrospective showcase on Parameshwar Raju’s various series is on the cards at the Museum of Sacred Art, Belgium. In the meantime, the artist has begun working on new series on the Buddha and Mahabharata: “I am also planning a series for children, which will have simplified drawings,” he states.

Later this summer when Koeli Mukherji’s book is ready for release, In Divine Rhythm will be showcased as a physical exhibition accompanying the book launch in different cities.

(In Divine Rhythm is on view till February 28 at art.kunstmatrix.com/)



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