Virtuoso musings: Lesser-known sketches of K M Adimoolam
The Penetrating Line, a new exhibition and sale of limited edition prints of the sketches and drawings of the late K M Adimoolam (1938-2008), is a part of an endeavour to revive the legacy of the celebrated artist who hailed from Tiruchirapalli. The show is being hosted by A Limited Edition, a wing of The Asian Art Gallery, specialising in prints of masterworks, while many of the works on show are statedly being shown in public for the first time.
Curated by Chennai-based art historian Ashrafi Bhagat, the fabulous and sprawling collection features nearly 100 draughts (or drawings) in ink, rendered in fountain pen. The pieces reflect the show’s title, emphasising the “penetrating” aspect relative to the artist’s sharp, distinctive style and manner of perception. The concept of ‘the line’, which forms a crucial element in all forms of artistic discourse, was a stylistic form employed by Adimoolam to break free from matters concerning methods of art instruction in his era, to thereby give shape to his own identifiable artistic métier.
“Adimoolam was a prolific artist who created a vast number of drawings and sketches with conceptual fluidity and skillful dexterity to investigate a wide spectrum of themes,” explains Ashrafi. “He was convinced that that drawings and sketches had the potential to exist as an independent art form. He manipulated his strokes to achieve dimensions through chiaroscuro and built a sense of depth in his drawings,” observes the former Head of the department of Fine Arts, Stella Maris College, Chennai.
The drawings at hand span a period of 40 years, starting from 1969, when Adimoolam graduated from the School of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, up until his last days in 2008. His iconic series of 100 sketches of Gandhi, commemorating the Mahatma’s centenary, is featured in the catalogue. There’s also the Kings of India Series, a satire on Indian royalty and their redundant relevance in modern-day democracy.
The most illuminating set of drawings are from the series, Sketch Book. Drawn in his final years, the works here display a mature control of the line, and a well-defined mode of expression. Added to this repertoire are many temple themed sketches of the Hindu deities of Ganesha, Kamadhenu and Murugan.
All the pieces on show were donated by Abanindran A L, 46, the late artist’s son. A filmmaker by profession, Abanindran recalls, “My father drew most of these to take a break from painting. While painting for hours, he would draw to break the monotony, refresh his inspiration and start painting again.” He adds, “The sketches helped him reconnect with art foundations.”
Santhana Krishnan, founder of Asian Art Gallery, launched A Limited Edition in association with Mark Rajarathinam, an apprentice of Adimoolam. The intention, she offers, is to make masterpieces of virtuoso artists available to all through affordable prints. The online art store thus offers prints of both established and emerging artists. “Mark’s efforts to reveal his teacher’s masterpieces to the world gave birth to A Limited Edition,” says Santhana. “We are reiterating Adimoolam’s relevance today, and also making art affordable to all, to achieve inclusivity of art appreciation in the city,” she enthuses.
At Art Houz, Alwarpet. Until Aug 11. Cost: From Rs 15,000 and above. Details: 8754952556