Replicating the art of puppetry on canvas

  • Nishtha Juneja, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 23, 2014 19:02 IST

Like many other traditional art forms, Tholu Bommalata, a regional art form of Andhra Pradesh that depicts stories from Indian epics through larger-than-life puppets, is almost on the verge of dying. When Nagesh Goud learnt about the plight of the artisans who have been making these leather puppets for years, the artist decided to bring forth the essence of the art through what he does best - painting.

"It has become difficult for the artisans to make a living out of their art because people are not interested in such shows anymore. Thus, the artisans have no other option, but to look for new means of survival. I was so touched by their condition that I decided to do something about it," says Goud.

Inspired by leather puppetry, the artist's latest exhibition, titled Katha, is inspired by Tholu Bommalata, and incorporates stories from epics - Mahabharata and Ramayana - on canvas. "I started by painting the portrait of the nayak (central figure) in the centre, and then adorned the surroundings with excerpts picked from the epics," he adds.

Artist Nagesh Goud

The predominant feature in Goud's works is the presence of almond-shaped eyes.

When asked about the relevance of the same, the artist explains, "The features of the characters are sharp and well defined. The eyes are soulful and powerful and form the most prominent feature of the face. Apart from that I have used intricate patterns, floral clusters, motifs and suggestive jewellery."

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