Social Commentary through Artists eyes 21 July 2000
“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.