Every great river of the world starts as just a small fountain.
And Artist Pugazhenthi was born in 1967 to the couple Kuzhandhaivelu-Nagarathinam in a village by name Thumbathikkottai in the art-rich and music-rich district of Thanjavur.
The boy Pugazhenthi joined his father in agricultural work and so grew up with the soil. Father wanted son to study medicine and become an eminent doctor. But by zeal, toil and social consciousness Pugazhenthi has come to be a world-famous artist.
IN THE PRECINCTS OF LEARNING
Primary education in his place of birth, secondary education in Mela Uluvur, diploma in painting from the Govt.College of Fine Arts, Kumbakonam, and a Master’s degree in painting from the Central University, Hyderabad – such are his attainments in education. He is the first ever in Tamilnadu to have attained a Master’s degree in painting.
He has thus far put in more than 19 years of meritorious service as a Professor in painting in the Govt.College of Fine Arts, Chennai.
It was in 1995 that Shanthi came into his life as paint to his brush. And their two artistic creations are Chithran and Ilakkiyan.
THE JOURNEY OF THE BRUSH
Pugazhenthi made his mark in 1983 itself when he was only 16 at the art exhibition of the cultural festival of the Thanjavur Medical College.
Since then his individual art exhibitions have surpassed one hundred and joint exhibitions with his participation among others fifty. His Paint Exhibition entitled THE TWENTIETH CENTURY – THE UNSLUMBERING COLOURS OF A PAINTBRUSH was held at the Lalith Kala Academy, Chennai in the year 2000. This was followed up with similar exhibitions in various important towns of Tamilnadu.
LENGTHY ART THAT BREAKS THE HEART
A new endeavour again in the year 2001: a very lengthy piece of painting that depicted the tragedy of the disastrous earthquake in Gujarat. Yes, it was a series of paintings in dark shades measuring as a whole 150 feet in length – entitled THE SHATTERED NEST! It was a silent witness that shook the conscience of so many in Chennai for long. The huge dimension of the painting and the difficulty in taking the paper-based painting roll from place to place made it impossible to move the exhibition around to other cities. It could be put up in exhibition only in his native Thanjavur.
However this painting exhibition came to be a subject-matter of discussion in various dailies, weeklies and the television. It won such recognition and acclaim all over Tamilnadu as no other exhibition has ever received. It also won for its author the Best Artist award from the Human Resources Development and Research Organisation, Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu.
FOR THE GREAT TEACHER WHO GAVE IDENTITY
Artist Pugazhenthi portrayed various profiles of Thanthai Periyar, the rationalist teacher who gave the Tamils identity. These line drawings unique in class and form, as none else had ever thought of, won great acclaim as an exhibition entitled THE FACE OF DIRECTION . It had the distinction of going round 25 towns of Tamilnadu. The Dravidar Kazhagam took up the responsibility of running this exhibition everywhere.
If you are really proficient the foreigner must salute it, says Poet Bharathi. Pugazhenthi’s UNSLUMBERING COLOURS won great acclaim not only among overseas Tamils but among other nationalities, too.
Likewise the two serial exhibitions entitled THE FACE OF DIRECTION and UNSLUMBERING COLOURS were put up in the American cities of Chicago and Washington and in Canada, Denmark, Paris, and several European cities in the year 2000. These two serial exhibitions and the experience and acclaim he acquired inspired Pugazhenthi. They were followed up with the next exhibition entitled THE MIST in Chennai towards the end of 2003. It received the acclaim of the people of Tamilnadu in more than 20 places in various cities of Tamilnadu.
The art exhibition of Eelam History entitled STORMING COLOURS took the artist on a glorious journey to the cities of Melbourne and Sidney in Australia. Outside Tamilnadu in Bangaluru in the state of Karnataka in the year 2006 art exhibitions of the Eelam struggle entitled STORMING COLOURS and UNSLUMBERING COLOURS were held. It succeeded to a great extent in inducing a correct understanding of the Eelam struggle and a change of heart among the people of Karnataka.
The final stage of the Eelam war in the year 2009 and the Mullivaikkal tragedy were depicted in a collection of paintings entitled LIFE- FROZEN COLOURS and exhibited in Chennai.
In the year 2010 a collection of 80 paintings entitled FACES OF WAR was exhibited in Chennai in the first anniversary week of Mullivaikkal. It was followed up with exhibitions in Thanjavur, Thirunelveli, Thiruchirappalli, at the Alliance Francis in Chennai, in Madurai and other places, and in several cities of Switzerland, Canada, Norway and other countries, to date.
In the year 2011 to mark the International Women’s Day 85 paintings relevant to women were selected from various collections and exhibited in Chennai under the title VANJIKKADU: WOMAN – WAR AND PEACE.
TAMIL EELAM TOUR
Artist Pugazhenthi toured Tamil Eelam in 2005 and put up exhibitions relating to the history of the Eelam struggle under the title STORMING COLOURS in various places where war had taken place.
In Tamilnadu and various countries where exhibitions were put up, workshop were organised for students and others interested. However conducting classes for Eelam Tamils in the field of battle – for students, teachers and the fighters – was an emotional, inspiring and unforgettable experience.
INTERNATIONAL ART TOUR
Artist Pugazhenthi has gone on art tour to Malaysia, Singapore, the United States of America, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Eelam, Lanka, Norway, Sweden etc.
AWARDS AND APPRECIATIONS
1987 -- NATIONAL AWARD as selected by M. F. Hussain, the famous artist in the All India Youth Art Exhibition at Calcutta;
1987 -- STATE AWARD of the Government of Tamilnadu;
1987 -- INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY OF INDIA AWARD;
1988 -- First Prize at the Karaikkudi ACCET painting contest;
1990 -- AWARD of MERIT from the Central University, Hyderabad;
2002 -- BEST ARTIST AWARD of the Human Resources Development and Research Organisation, Dharmapuri;
2005 -- GOLD MEDAL awarded by the Aesthetic Society of Tamil Eelam;
2007 -- ACHIEVEMENT AWARD of the Rajarajan Education and Culture society;
2007 -- AWARD FOR SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH ART MOVEMENT given by St. Joseph College, Tiruchirappalli;
2007 -- AWARD FOR UTILISATION OF ART FOR SOCIAL LIBERATION given by the Vellore Thamizh Movement.
2008 -- PERIYARIST SINTHANAIYALAR (THINKER) AWARD given by the Centre for Periyarist Thinking, Rajapalayam;
2009 -- HONOR FOR PERSONALITY - 2009 by Madras Christian College, Chennai;
1996 -- Art Design Advisor and Seminar Delegate at the World Tamil Conference, Thanjavur.
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE MEDIA
Artist Pugazhenthi’s interviews and articles published by most of the Tamil and English dailies, weeklies and other periodicals of Tamilnadu got an enthusiastic response. Likewise in Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, France and Switzerland the print and electronic media brought out his interviews which were well received.
The Canadian Tamil Radio, the tamil TV TTN of France, the IBC of London and the Sigaram and Dharisanam Television and Radio networks of Australia would not spare him.
PEN BEYOND THE BRUSH
Not only has Pugazhenthi’s artistic capability found expression in various articles and a serial, but his BURNING COLOURS has been published as the first ever book of painting in Tamil. Following this, his painting collections entitled UNSLUMBERING COLOURS, FACE OF DIRECTION, ADDRESSES, SHOCKING LINES, SHATTERED NEST, and STORMING COLOURS have also been published. WINGS OF BRUSH, the story of his foreign tours of the US and Europe, and MIND AND FACE, a collection of his interviews have also come out.
IMPRESSIVE COLOURS, a collection of articles on Pugazhenthi’s drawings published by various magazines, WESTERN ARTISTS, his work of history about European artists and their art, and TAMIL EELAM – WHAT I SAW AND HOW I WAS SEEN, the story of his tour of Tamil Eelam, have seen print and well received. The last one has been translated in English and published. German and French versions of the same have followed suit. ART – ELEMENTS AND PRINCIPLES, his wok of basics, for all visual media has also been published.
A special souvenir on PUGAZHENTHI THE FIGHTER ARTIST was published in 2005.
MEMBER, ARTISTS WELFARE BOARD
Pugazhenthi was appointed by the Government of Tamilnadu a member of its Artists Welfare Board in the year 2007-2011.
EVER BLESSED BY THE ELDERS
Pugazhenthi’s very wide circle of friends and comrades includes multifarious intellectuals, leaders, men and women of art, journalists and cine artists.
And it is this friendship and camaraderie that has enabled him to be a vanguard fighter in the struggle against violation of human rights, for the rights of the Tamil nationality, against repressions and draconian black laws and for social justice, language and nationality rights. Thus the direction of his journey of art is bound to make a long history.