Celebrating P Perumal: the artist, his art and his contribution

This ongoing exhibition aims to celebrate artist P Perumal’s works that presented simple rural settings, and also highlight his contribution towards the modern art movement in Madras

author_img Rupam Jain Published :  03rd February 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  03rd February 2023 12:00 AM
Artwork by P Perumal

Artwork by P Perumal

As a young boy, P Perumal was an enthusiastic participant in the festivals of his village Koomapatti near Srivilliputtur, partaking in dance ceremonies and painting on walls prior to the Pongal festival. This interest in art led him to the Madras College of Arts and Crafts, and soon enough, he was one of those artists whose name became synonymous with the modern art movement in Madras.

Surprisingly and unfortunate at the same time, Perumal, though a well-known artist, never really had major exhibitions around his works during his lifetime. The artist passed away in 2019, but his art lives on. As an important artist who deserves to be highlighted and his contributions to the modern art movement in Madras known to people, Ashvita’s Fine Arts and Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Perumal’s works, titled P Perumal — Picturising the Rural.

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Speaking to us about the artist, Ashvin E Rajagopalan, director of Ashvita’s and curator of this exhibition, says, “Perumal was a part of the Madras College of Arts and Crafts, and was a student of KCS Paniker. He comes from a period that was right at the beginning of modern art in Madras. He, along with several other artists of his age, were very important components of this movement. After he passed away, we have taken up the interest to exhibit him because in retrospect, when we look at his body of work, it’s quite powerful. The contribution he made towards the Modern Art Movement is particularly aimed at bridging the ga between the urban and rural India. Migrating from further south where he lived, to a city like Chennai and maintaining the relationship between the two, as well as the visual and culture continuity between the two spaces is reflected in his works. And that’s why the show is called Picturising the Rural.”

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Ashvin says when he looked at all of Perumal’s paintings, he realised that there were certain themes deeply connected to the rural as opposed to the urban cities of Chennai. “Perumal brought with him memories of his upbringing. So his paintings actually contain a few very rural themes, primarily of families — a family of farmers or people in the village and them at work. That was his larger theme. And because he was also a person living in Madras, there are a few works that show the same kind of celebration — dance, festivities, and so on, but in a very urban setting,” Ashvin tells us, adding, “My curation of Perumal’s work started with about five to six paintings of his, in March 2020. That’s when I began to study and understand the artist and his artwork. Eventually, we went about collecting his works from various sources because the artist was quite successful. His works were being sold to multiple collectors. At our exhibition, we have displayed close to 26 paintings of his and very specifically oils on canvases, and large format works.”

The exhibition is open for visitors and the artworks and paintings are for sale. Ashvin adds, “It’s a good opportunity for people to come in at a very early stage to look at the man’s work, and collect artwork at very affordable prices.” 

Price on request.
On till March 5.
At Ashvita’s, Mylapore.