Friday, August 16, 2013

Mapping a veteran Indian artist's creative quest

Badri Narayan’s paintings are narrative in nature. Curious titles like ‘Meeting at Midstream’ and ‘Queen Khemsa's Dream of Hamsa’ are often the starting points from where one can launch the quest to unravel the complexities and mysteries contained in the paintings.

The artist leaves it to the viewer to interpret and understand the subject matter. He tends to draw his inspiration from Indian mythology and metaphors - Hindu gods and goddesses as well as still life watercolors. He also acknowledges the role of the Indian miniature tradition in his development as an artist.

A believer in the two-dimensionality, his paintings are mostly done in a smaller format, which he finds well suited for the watercolor works. Though he works largely in ink or pastel and watercolor, the prolific artist has also dabbled with etchings, woodcuts and ceramics. Apart from teaching art teacher, he has also written fiction and illustrated children’s books. Narration comes to him with a natural ease and proficiency. As he narrates, the artist has been fond of telling tales since his childhood. Symbolism is a prominent feature of his oeuvre, though at times, he inserts popular icons of rich Indian culture and tradition.

Elaborating on his process of picking up the imagery and influences, he has stated it’s all that surrounds and immerses him, since his early years, becoming an integral part of his creative journey, overcoming many obstacles in the course of a long career following his own instinct, and experimenting with diverse media, forms and platforms.

Badri Narayan is a thoughtful and reticent artist, who has excelled in the various roles like the perennial storyteller, the creator of auspicious symbols, and the loving teacher, sans any pretentions. Indeed, peeping into the persona of this multi-faceted painter, illustrator, teacher, essayist, philosopher and storyteller in itself is an enriching experience.

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