Mahesh Pottabathini and Chippa Sudhakar showcase their lockdown works at a virtual show held at Gangneung Art Centre in South Korea
Artist Mahesh Pottabathini’s drawings of ‘twisted human form’ metaphorically depict human beings cooped up in their inner selves, hiding emotions, unable to express. A teacher at Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, he thrives on drawing this form. “It’s a mental perception; One cannot see it physically but can experience the emotions through facial expressions,” he shares. This visual perception of a human mind shaped his narrative when COVID-19 struck in March.
The artist was to travel in September to Busan City in Republic of Korea, to showcase his works at Gangneung Art Centre for the ‘Recycling Story 2020 Age of Reflection’ but the pandemic changed all that. The virtual group show featured works of 20 artists from seven countries on the ‘COVID-19’ theme. Mahesh found a connect between his ‘twisted human form’ and a world halted due to the pandemic. “Lockdown is not about being confined indoors; it is an emotional pause affecting the human race,” he says, adding an individual is getting ‘twisted’ due to surroundings and situations.
Among the five works that Mahesh sent, ‘Hope Light’ portrays hope for the human being amid pandemic; his ‘Where To Go’ depicts uncertain situations faced in the universe (lockdown being one). In ‘Two Portraits’ the artist plunges into a void depicting the isolation and loneliness and an uncertainty of expression; ‘Whose Tail’, a satirical work is a symbolic comparison of bad conduct towards the world. He used the traditional Korean paper Hanji to create different layers. Explaining the process he says, “I used to trace the drawing on Hanji and apply glue on an expression I didn’t like in it. I used to create five layers of the drawing, tracing one paper over another. With this layering, I wanted to portray both the situation during pandemic and also the human tendency to hide feelings.” Mahesh fondly recalls his trip to Busan last year with his collection of pixelated woven images (appearing like an ikat weave). “I was excited to showcase at Gangneung Art Centre for the second time but life had other plans.” Trauma of the marginalised
When most of India was confined indoors during the lockdown, artist Chippa Sudhakar wanted to highlight the trauma of the marginalised during the lockdown. He compared his own life to the lives of migrants, especially their journey to their home towns. “We had to adapt and adjust to our new lives due to pandemic. There was not much change to my working style but the migrants had to face lot of hardships to simply survive and reach their home towns,” he shares.
Sudhakar’s art works in mixed media and wood depict how the migrants had to move from one place to another like wild animals and the family members, who had less time to spend together are adjusting to the new norm of ‘more family time.’
Sudhakar sent six works to the virtual group show at Gangneung Art Centre. The Centre’s curator Soon Yung Yang had originally planned to meet the artist at his studio residency in Hyderabad and plan an exchange programme. “Since that couldn’t happen, she sent an invitation to the virtual show,” he adds.