Social Commentary through Artists eyes                                                           21 July 2000

K. Anuradha
“The Star” Malaysia

     Artists  express  themselves  in a variety  of  ways  on the canvas.  Some seek  solace in serene land and seascapes, while others  delve  into  deeply  personal  abstract  art.

     For Tamil  Nadu born  artist  K.Pugazhenthi  however,  art  serves  as  social  commentary.

     The 33 year  old  artist  is  currently  exhibiting  his  dramatically - vocal, yet  “people  friendly”  paintings  in  Malaysia .

     Young  he may be  but  he  is also  mature  individual  who  expresses  his strong  feelings  about  war,  human  rights, suffering,  politics  and world  happenings  on the canvas.

     “I have been painting  for about 20 years but since 1983 most of my  arts has served as a commentary  on my  surroundings,”  said  this unassuming  artist  who hails from the culturally  rich  district  of  Thanjavur.

     His current  exhibition, featuring 37 paintings, carries on with his social  criticism tradition.

     Titled 20th century - Unslumbering colours, he touched on topics and people who stood  out, in his eye, in the last century.

     Mother  Teresa, a virtual  saint to most  Indians regardless  of faith, was paid homage to by Pugazhenthi  in a depiction accompanied  by the moving  words; Mother Teresa : the Womb does not make motherhood.

     His strong political awareness  is international in nature  and not confined  to his native  Tamil  Nadu  alone.

     Each of his portraits  are  accompanied by sometimes fiery, sometimes sad, haiku-like  poems.

     Viewed  from a technical  or fine art  point of view  Pugazhenthi’s art  might  not  inspire, not to purists atleast, but viewed  as whole  with his accompanying  poem,  his pieces  are  biting  commentary.

     While  international  figures like  Gandhi, Cuba’s Che Guevara, China’s Mao Edong, Mandela  and  Picasso  are  all  included  in his  collection,  his  most  personal  pieces  are  those  dealing  with  strife  and suffering  closer  to  home.

     “When  I was a teenager,  the  slaughter in Srilanka  drove  many  refugees  into  TamilNadu.  Times  were uncertain,  there was  danger  and  disruption  to  life  everywhere,’  he  recalled.

     “Around  this time , I  was  very affected by  what  was  going  on  around  me.  My  paintings  started  to be a platform to express my  feelings”, he added.

     And  he  has remained that  way   since, He  said  his  criticisms have  earned  him  tags  like  “firebrand” and  “radical”,  but  he does not  mind  at all.

     His  artworks  will  be  exhibited  today  and  Saturday  at Dewan  Datuk  K.R.Soma, Wisma  Tun  Sambanthan.