CAPTURING TRAGEDIES ON CANVAS                                                                    April 3, 2005

T. Saravanan
The Hindu, Madurai

     FROM THE communal riots in Gujarat,which claimed several lives, the way in Iraq, which crushed historical and cultural evidences, and the Thinniyam incident, which demeaned human beings, to the Kumbakonam  fire  tragedy,  which consumed the lives of hundreds of innocent children, all came alive once again at the painting exhibition.

     Organised .by Thazhal, a social organisation that conducts awareness programmes for students, and Karl Marx Library, the exhibition contained paintings by K. Pugazhenthi, professor of painting,  Government College of Fine Arts.

     The paintings reflected the professor’s concern regarding the society.

     Titled ‘Pugai Mootam,’ the exhibition  portrayed  scenes from the Gujarat riots with attractive captions. One caption read,’Whether Gujarat:is Gandhiji’s birthplace or graveyard?’

     The exhibition had a couple of symbolic collages too, one depicting the Gujarat riots and another the Iraq war.

     “It was understood that fanatics traced people from the other community, Using the telephone directory. Hence, the collage has been made using papers from the telephone directory among other materials. The other collage portrayed the devastating war in Iraq, which demolished historical and cultural artefacts,” says P.G. Saravanan of’Thazhal.

     “The exhibition was first set up on December 3, 2003, in Chennai. It has been organised in more than 30 places including  Villupuram,  Cuddalore, Thanjavur, Chidambaram, Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Tindivanam and Tiruchi.

     It is going to be set up in a few other places too. The exhibition was named ‘Pugai Mootam’ with the hope that the mist would one day clear from People’s minds,” says Mr. Pugazhenthi.

     “My passion for painting began when I was a child. I emerged as a painter only in 1983 when I was moved by the genocide in the Jaffna Peninsula. In 1987 I received the national award and then the state award for my painting,’Victim 1987,’ “ he recounts.

     The painter from Thumbathikottai in Thanjavur district has travelled  to  various  places abroad conducting more than 100 exhibitions in Malaysia, Singapore,  America,  France, Canada,  Germany,  Denmark and Australia.

     The knowledge he gained through his travels enabled him to write Thoorigai Chiragugal. His other books are ‘Eriyum Vannangal’, ‘Uranga Nirangal’, ‘Thisai Mugam’ and ‘Mugavarigal’.

     The public’s overwhelming response to the exhibition has made the painter to reschedule his tour plans.

     He is pondering upon whether to extend the exhibition for a few more days.

     “I have already received numerous representations from local organisations to host the exhibition in other places. The venue might change,” he says.