PERIYAR IN BLACK AND WHITE                                                                                       2002

Indian Express

     ‘Thisai Mugangal’. It was an exhibition held in Erode last week with a view to popularising the teachings of the great social  reformer and revolutionary Thanthai Periyar. And the artist was Prof K.Pugazhendi of Kudanthai Government College of Fine Arts.

     Pugazhendi’s first exhibition on the great revolutionary was held at government school at T.Nagar, Chennai, in February, 2002. It was a big draw winning him accolades from different quarters. This inspired him to conduct similar exhibitions in all districts with the simple  objective of popularising the ideals of Periyar.

     In the Erode exhibition, his paintings had as footnotes what Mahatma Gandhiji, Oxford University Prof Facis Mathew, Hiren Mukherjee, V.O. Chidambaranar, Poet Bharathidasan, A. T. Panneerselvam, Sir A Ramasamy, Anna, Prof. C S Lissi former Chief Minister Karunanidhi and other great leaders had said about Periyar.

     Pugazhendi who was infatuated by the ideals of Periyar since his schooldays, does not belong to any political party.A testimony to this is his collection of 50 paintings published as a book with the title ‘Eriyum Vannangal’.

     His ‘Uranga Nirangal’ comprises 37 paintings of famous personalities of the 20th century and they include Albert Einstein, V.I.Lenin, Maxim Gorky, martyr Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Tagore, Pudhumaipithan, poet Bharathi, Bharathidasan, Periyar, Neil Armstrong and L.T.T.E. leader Prabakaran. The 150 ft-long painting titled ‘Sidaintha Koodu’ depicts the disaster of Gujarat earth quake. Poet Inqulab and KasiAnandan wrote thought provoking poems for these paintings.

     Pugazhendi has already decided to conduct ‘Thisai mugangal’ in the US in July and August, for which also he is planning to use quotations of great leaders on Periyar.

     “Had not Periyar been born, perhaps thousands of people, including him and his family members, would not have got education and come up in life,” the professor strongly believes and points out “Whatever the achievements the socially backward people have gained so far in the State are mainly thanks to the great revolution launched by Periyar. So, I feel it as my duty and obligation to spread his ideals and teachings by conducting the exhibition.”

     Perhaps, only a few painters in the world like Picasso of Spain, M. F.Hussain, Goya and some expressionists in Germany could use their skills for exposing the social problems. On the lines of them, Pugazhendi also wants to build up his image not only in Tamil Nadu but also in the world itself.

     He says “This is the most opportune time for self-intro-spection for all as we are facing many threats including communalism and casteism. As Periyar was a torch-bearer of progressive ideas and thoughts, my paintings of him would definitely have some impact on the thinking of the people.”  Pugazhendi’s next Plan is to draw the entire life hisrtory of Periyar and also the present communal violence in Gujarat.