Sands of Time                                                                                                       26 Feb 2001

Sunday Express

     Shock, fear, helplessness... faces of the Gujarat earth quake victims expressing their inner turmoil are captured dramatically by Pugazhendi, a professor at the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kumbakonam. The black and white work titles sidhyindha Koodu on five feet wide and 150 feet long canvases is his way of raising fund for the affected people of Gujarat.

     Mounted on the walls of Thyagarayar Nagar Higher Secondary School in T.Nagar, the paintings instantly bring alive the sufferings of people. Pugazhendi has segregated his work into four parts. The first part depicts the immediate aftermath of the earth quake - people crushed to death under the debris. But more than the death, it is the depiction of life of those spared that has a lasting impression. For, the artist has captured their desperate attempt to save those trapped under the debris, injured, mutilated and gripped with the fear of imminent death, which leave us aghast. A wall clock that stopped at 8.50am, the time when the disastrous quake  brought life to a grinding halt, finds a prominent place in the work.

     The second part depicts fleeing people  with their scarce belongings leave the quake-hit areas  and those conducting mass cremations of the dead. The third show a life after the disaster -caring for the injured and the cattle. Finally we see people limping ahead trying to get over the nightmare and start life anew.

     The alacrity with which the artist has gone about the whole affair shows his concern and commitment for his fellow citizen. For Pugahzendi recording the cruelty of nature is nothing new. In the past he has recorded  for posterity many calamities, including the one titled Eriyum Vannangal (Burning Colours) depicting the struggle for liberation of Eelam and people’s misery resulting from communal riots.

     According to the artist, it took only three days to compile the collection  displayed from February 16 to February 24.