Thursday, 19 January 2012

Knocking on village doors

         Painted in florid blue, flaming red, canary yellow and parrot green, Santhana Krishnan’s door frames ensconce a world of memories

              If one talks of the proverbial window to the soul, artist KR Santhana Krishnan talks of the door to life. “Metaphorically, there is no life without a door. Itis the most important component of our life, our house,” he says emphatically.
The exhibition ‘Travelling Doors’ showcases doors mainly from the countryside where one can find colourful and traditional designs not seen in an urban milieu. It is also Santhana’s first solo show in Bangalore. Hehas earlier participated in group shows. 
I started painting doors from 1993 and have continued to do so. The motifs on the doors evoke nostalgia in the eyes of the beholder,” says Santhana.

He has so far done 800 doors in mixed media, acrylics and 3D versions on real doors replete with locks. His fascination with doors was “bound to be” as he has avid memories of his grandmother’s house in his native village near Salem which had 82 doors. “It was a big house but so old that it had to be demolished. My doors have symbols and motifs that bring back memories for most. Maybe that’s why the doors are so popular wherever the exhibition goes,” he explains. The doors are painted alongside the traditional boilers used to boil water in rural households, tulsi tharas, cycles, sturdy vessels, aluminum milk cans, kerosene lamps and other endearing symbols of the past and present.
“In some paintings, I have painted faded, old and peeling advertisements that we don’t see now (like posters of the film Bobby, very old Coca Cola, Horlicks and Eveready battery ads. It is ironical that a village may not have electricity or water but their houses and walls are embellished with advertisements of Coca Cola,” he notes of consumerism in the land of have-nots. Numbers that appear randomly are in fact present with a reason on the doors. “Some are corporation numbers, ward numbers, electricity board connection numbers. For instance, P 26 indicates that polio drops were given to a child in the house under the immunisation programme of the government,” says Santhana. 
The doors document a glimpse of life from Kumbakonam to villages in Rajasthan where he travelled just to take a glimpse of their doors and in the process, their way of life. “As a young undergraduate studying at Kumbakonam, I would pass agraharam or the dwellings of Brahmins every day on my way to college. There were many old houses and each had a unique door,” states Santhana.
Ultimately, for this ‘door specialist’ the doors serve as a narrative for memories and recollections which he revisits in order to reestablish a lost tradition and heritage.  According to Santhana, his travels across India made him realise that within every state regionally, doors have their own artistic and cultural story to narrate. “I have painted courtyards of rural homes. I have shown people feeding crows before a meal and during rituals. It was a ‘must-do’ in our south Indian culture that is slowly getting obliterated in our present urban life.”
Jayanthi madhukar.............Bangalore mirror newspaper ..jan 16..2012

Travelling Doors will be on display at Kynkyny Art Gallery from Jan 23rd to February 9th.

1 comment:

  1. read about you and your work at divya's blog...loved it!! adding you to my blog roll dedicated to artists :)