V Ramesh is fascinated by the Bhakti poets that led haim on a vivacious visual journey, capturing their spirit in a series of artworks recently showcased at New-Delhi based Gallery Threshold. His ‘Sanctum Sanctorum: A Corner For Four Sisters’, was executed through the intense prism of fervor, intimacy and devotional passion, appropriating four visionary mystic women poets and their voices, namely Lal Ded from Kashmir, Akka Mahadevi f Karaikkal Ammiyar and Andal. Critic-writer Georgina Maddox in an accompanying essay meticulously examined the artist’s musings over mortality, corporality and divinity.
- The artist was touched in particular, by the transgressive nature of their acts; they all left home to wander as poet-saints, spreading their poetry and musings on divinity. They all eschewed earthly ties like marriage in the face of great opposition often at the cost of their lives. In assuming their tone and voice, V Ramesh has tried to break gender binaries and embrace a genderless position from which to enunciate his devotion. In many ways his paintings could well be seen as a self portrait as they are really about the self that he is speaking.
- The central image was of a large Banyan tree. The gigantic diptych of the tree spread its roots and branches onto the ground creating a fortress. Flanking the central canvas on either side of the Banyan tree was a canvas with four blooming lotuses afloat on a dark pond of brown, while another emerald green canvas catches crows taking flight. Both these images were indirect tributes to the poets, but also denoted a celebration.
- Next was the terrifying image of Karaikkal Ammaiyar over-laid by a supplicating skeleton, a flaming tree and lines from a poem that extols Lord Shiva as the supreme creator. If the canvas glorified how terrifying devotion could be, the canvas dedicated to Akka Mahadevi celebrated the calm and beauty that this poet was known for.
Summing up the series, the artist has been quoted as saying, “For the last decade or so, I’ve been interested in exploring impermanence, not just that of life itself but also that of people. I am fascinated by that defining moment of crossover wherein a personality becoming eternal and mythological from being ephemeral and human.”