‘Story of Invincible’ is artist Appam Raghava’s depiction of Hanuman’s bhakti bhava towards Rama and Sita

‘Story of Invincible’ is artist Appam Raghava’s depiction of Hanuman’s bhakti bhava towards Rama and Sita

A distinct aspect of Appam Raghava’s artwork is the strong colour palette he uses to explore the bhakti bhava (devotion) of Hanuman, through the ‘Story of Invincible’ series. The artist who works from his studio in Amangal, Mahbubnagar district, Telangana, is showcasing paintings, sculptures and installations at OneDot6, a gallery and store owned by interior designers and architects Aamir and Hameeda Sharma in Hyderabad. 

The paintings and sculptures are head turners. A fibreglass sculpture of Hanuman is mounted on an acrylic painting in which the artist narrates chapters from Hanuman’s story – his leap towards the sun as a child, assuming that the sun was a giant ball; the events that occurred when he crossed paths with Surya and Indra; Hanuman carrying the Sanjeevani mountain, and later seeking blessings from Rama and Sita. 

Raghava conceptualised the series four years ago, intending to portray Hanuman’s devotion to Rama as a manifestation of Dasya Bhakti and Padasevana. This is the artist’s first full-fledged series inspired by mythology: “My earlier artworks, since 1996, were on social themes and also reflected tribal life. In later years I wanted to explore mythological narratives.”

Amir and Hameeda Sharma with the artist Appam Raghava. In the background is the artwork on Lakshmi

Amir and Hameeda Sharma with the artist Appam Raghava. In the background is the artwork on Lakshmi
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The pops of colours and textures in his paintings add an element of drama. Raghava says he uses the colours and textures to narrate the bhakti of Hanuman towards Rama and Rama’s love for Hanuman in an impactful manner. Hanuman’s devotion to Rama and Sita is a recurrent theme in several paintings on display.

The artist also depicts the story of Goddess Lakshmi through a fibreglass structure mounted against a painting that narrates her story. He intends to work on a series on Lakshmi in the near future. 

A fibreglass mask takes him 20 to 30 days while a painting takes four to five days. “I enjoy working with primary colours — red, blue and green and a few other colours I derive by mixing them. It has become my signature style.”

A painting by Appam Raghava

A painting by Appam Raghava
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Growing up in Amangal, Raghava watched his father depict rural themes in his artwork. “For any special occasion in the village, my father used to make the Ganesha idols. When he saw that I liked to draw, he encouraged me to learn art formally.” JNTU College of Fine Arts, Hyderabad, opened up Raghava’s world. He mentions with pride that his daughter is now pursuing fine arts and his son is also inclined to art.

Movie posters of the 1980s were also an inspiration for Raghava in his early years: “The fonts used in some of the movie posters, like the Krishna-starrer Simhasanam (1986), were stylised and would convey something about the film’s story. I used to replicate those fonts with the colours and drawings surrounding them.”

Raghava visits Hyderabad occasionally to display his work or to meet fellow artists: “The city is always busy; I prefer the calm rural atmosphere of Amangal,” he says.

(Story of Invincible is on view at One Dot 6, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, till May 29.)



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