After Anjaneyulu G completed his bachelor’s degree from JNT University of Fine Arts in Hyderabad, he spent a lot of time in his room, making still life paintings. For inspiration, he turned to items scattered around, including stainless steel objects like jugs, milk cans and kettles. “I was studying works by the great masters and used to experiment a lot. Over time, I realised that every object in the room looked artistic; they were a separate entity blazing with life. From then on, I didn’t need to search for objects; every object became the subject of my experiments,” says the 39-year-old artist.
His latest show, Astonishing Expendables, features 14 still life paintings in acrylic and oil of a variety of stainless steel objects on multicoloured geometric/dotted tablecloth.
While the images initially strike you as photographs (with the metallic sheen, the shadow, the surroundings reflected on the metallic surface), they were actually hand-drawn over a span of two years. This exhibition also marks a departure from Anjaneyulu’s earlier shows, where he used solid coloured or white backgrounds for his paintings.
The artist admits the allure of still life art for him is that it represents the mundane in a new light: “Quiet and contemplative, still life paintings arrest time and circumstances, and afford an opportunity to reassess commonplace objects we encounter daily but fail to notice,” he says.
The idea that such objects could be treasured dawned upon him as a child, when he observed his grandparents’ obsession with objects like rusty canisters, moth-eaten shawls, a dysfunctional radio and a distorted mirror. “They would treat them with veneration, and nothing could be dispensed with. My grandparents were never too distanced from the history of Partition and hard times. These objects told their story,” he says.
While the objects Anjaneyulu focuses on were ubiquitous in middle class homes in the ’90s, the artist stresses that he’s not trying to preserve the past. “My intention is to render an object timeless,” he says.
Youngest of five siblings, Anjaneyulu grew up in a small village called Garidepally in the Nalgonda district of Telangana. He studied in the village school and helped his brother paint signboards. “Mahatma Gandhi said ‘India lives in its villages’. I grew up in such an idyllic village which also gave me much inspiration. Two of my brothers are artists as well; they taught me many things about drawing and painting. There was an overall artistic environment in my childhood,” he says.
What: Astonishing Expendables is on view from November 20 to December 3.
When: Open 11am to 7pm daily
Where: At India Fine Art, Film Centre Building, 68, Tardeo Road
Call: 2352 0438