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G. Gurunathan

Chennai, India Born 1981

M.F.A. painting from Government College of Fine Arts in 2009

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Chaparral, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (2010); Apparao Galleries, Chennai (2008); Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai (2005)

Selected Group Exhibitions

Alliance Francaise, Pondicherry (2006); Vinyasa Art Gallery & Palazze Art Gallery, Chennai (2006); Kinetics Group Exhibition, Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai(2007); Graphics Atellier Cumberland, USA (2007); Madras Canvas III & II, Forum Art Gallery, Chennai (2008); Between the Lines, Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai (2008); Prakrit Arts Gallery, Chennai (2008); Delight of the Shades, Auroville, Pondicherry (2008); The South, Apparao Gallery, Delhi (2008);Expression Stic Elucidation, Apparao Gallery, Chennai (2008); Sign, Alliance Francais Gallery, Pondicherry (2009); Group Exhibition, Concern India Foundation, Bangalore (2009); Kinetics Tracing Horizons, Chitra Kala Parishad (2009); Present in the Past, Forum Art Gallery, Chennai (2010); Summer Abstraction Show, The Noble Sage, London (2011); Artist of the Month Exhibition, Cholamandal Artist Village, Chennai (2011); Art Chennai, Athreyaa Gallery, Chennai (2011); Kinetics, Cholamandal Artist Village, Chennai (2011)

Selected Awards

State Award from Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai given in 2003; Anna University Award grant given in 2004; Best Student Award given by Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, in 2009

Born into a farming family in a small village in Tamil Nadu, Gurunathan remembers that it was both his brothers occupation as a signboard artist and his appreciation of a neighbourhood artist that originally inspired his interest in art. On finishing school he joined the Chennai Government College of Art & Crafts, determined to make art an integral part of his life. Like any other student he began with line drawing and portraiture though this did not hold the young artists interest. The influence of L. Munuswamy and A.P.Santhanaraj changed his mindset forever, teaching him ideas of abstraction and achieving wholeness within a painting by leaving naturalism aside. He learnt from them how to keep the picture surface consistent in style, technique and artistic aims, and thus alive and autonomous.

In recent years, tired of the claustrophobia and nihilism of his subject matter after leaving college, Gurunathan turned to nature to reignite a love for life, beauty and happiness. Nature, he realised, would close the distance between the unfathomable gaps between the heavens, the unending stream of suns, moons and planets and put him nearer to the creator in whose arms struggled the vast universe. This was no doubt in part inspired by his new mentor, T. Athiveerapandian, one of the leading abstract painters of The Noble Sage, another great believer in looking to ones natural environment for inspiration. As Athiveerapandian enjoys leaving Chennai life for the tribes of Kerala, Gurunathan began taking long arduous treks in the thick forests of his native Tamil Nadu. In his travels from Chennai to Dharmasala (journeys that continue today) he soon lost his artistic depression and re-energised his art with renewed faith and freshness of vision.

Gurunathan takes a sketchpad and makes small abstract drawings of the overlapping of leaves, trees, branches, twigs, shadows as he walks. These are generally monochrome. It is only on return to the studio that these are worked up into larger, colourful mixed media works. They all have a certain verticality within them however much the forms and shapes vary, certainly implying growth and flourishing fecundity. The works remind us of those of Paul Cezanne in their reliance on inner impulses for their artistic realisation. Gurunathan describes the works as having a sustaining quality that ensures a long enduring enjoyment for the returning viewer. We are often right up close to the abstract action of the natural world, leaf-like shapes are enlarged and enhanced, the semblance of branches and barks intermingling in the same frontal plane. In this way Gurunathan differs from Athiveerapandian today. His works appear to be very much about recreating the population of nature, the bombardment of forms that he perceives on his forest hikes. Athiveerapandian once upon a time, started in a similar way, concentrating on what I have described as the budding action of nature. This five years on has moved him in a direction that captures the almost operatic drama of nature, its moments of sublime power through to other instances of its devastating all encompassing energy. Looking at Gurunathans work one wonders where this young artist will go next? How will his forms change and what will be his focus of interest? I believe that there is a clue in his chosen mediums. Gurunathan has used a mix of holy Hindu ash, pigment colours and acrylic paint on rice paper. As such the works have a grainy texture to the surface and the paper itself therefore looks fragile under this influence. There is a clear need to recreate the dichotomies of nature, its subtle impulses both hard-wearing and transient, through his technique, medium and content.

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