Chokkataan on canvas: Ancient games are up for a rematch
When Vinita Sidhartha first reached out to artist Shalini Biswajit, she only had a half-baked idea about collaborating on a project. Vinita is the founder of Kreeda, an enterprise involved in reviving the ancient games of Tamil Nadu, while Shalini is the founder of Forum Art Gallery.
It wasn’t long, however, before they realised that they shared a common dream — to relive the times when entire families would gather in a home to playing simple yet engrossing board games.
That’s the background to the exhibition, The Art of Traditional Games, which Shalini took two months to curate, with a group of 13 artists who have put up 20 artworks either directly or indirectly themed around ancient games.
“We have chosen artwork that reminds us of the games that were played by yesteryear families, in terms of the colours, lines, grids, symbols and elements in the paintings,” offers Shalini, who also has her mixed media canvases on display. Sample a stainless steel tray with circles cut out to resemble the traditional Pallanguzhi board, placed against backgrounds of explosive red, orange and yellow.
As one enters the gallery, a mammoth painting of Airavath, the fabled elephant with wings, painted by Santosh Kotagiri, grabs the viewer’s attention. With acrylics on canvas, the imposing painting titled Unfolded Dream shows the Airavath scaling great heights, and lending the impression of the final stage of the Parama Pada Sopanam (Snakes and Ladders).
Thejomaye Menon’s When Can I Play? is a mixed-media canvas that deserves special mention, as
it was commissioned exclusively for this show. The vibrant green explosion features a pitcher with playing seeds falling from it.
This visual is juxtaposed on the surface of the Aadu Puli Attam (The Goat and Tiger Game), with the Pallanguzhi tray fixed, and the Chokkataan (Ludo) painted in shades of yellow. The show also has stalls put up by Kreeda with the actual games laid out to be played by the visitors.
At Forum Art Gallery, Adyar. From 10.30 AM to 6 PM. Until August 31. Details: 42115596