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Different STROKES
A show by three Chennai-based artists is marked by diverse styles

Dhinakara Sundar's work: uncluttered, yet architectural

THE GROUP show by three artists from Chennai, presently on at the
Lakshana Art Gallery, brings out their diverse channels of expression
as also their differing styles. While S. Dhinakara Sundar has worked
on woodblock prints, N.S. Sathish Kumar sticks to formal paintings on
paper and canvas. K. Gukanraj uses the medium of ceramic pottery.
Of the three, it is Sundar who impresses most with his colourful,
architectural, and design-oriented works. His setting is Japanese,
alluding to his training in the Land of the Red Sun, where he learnt the
unique woodblock technique. The figures, both male and female, wear
rich expressions, postures, and loaded hand gestures. In one of his
works, Sundar incorporates the rural landscape, with varied
surroundings such as the rivers, mountains, bridges, boats, and snow-
covered homes. Despite the inclusion of several elements, he keeps
the painting uncluttered and manages to attract the viewers'
attention, thanks to the human figures seen engaged in assorted
activities. In another work, the masked characters display their stark
expressions as if they are in a performance. Their colourful costumes
complement the snatches of multi-hued, mosaic-like background.
Other works — incorporating flying birds with their outstretched
wings, female figures basking in the midst of blossoming flowers and
swaying weeds, and musicians with their intense listeners — are quite
well-composed, but are somewhat excessively ornamented.
Gukanraj's ceramic pottery is pleasant, but hardly exceptional. A few
works such as Anger, where an inverted face is marked with an
extended tongue, and Friends, where two figures squat facing each
other, are feeble attempts to break the repetitiveness of other pieces,
which mostly appear as vases and pots.
Sathish Kumar's Fantasy paintings are lofty by intention, rich in
colour, but weak in emotions and expression. The artist looks at the
female form to convey his emotions and thoughts. The standing and
vertically stretched figures, amidst richly coloured flora, can best be
described as decorative.
(The exhibition concludes on December 26.)

Leaf as an object of art

S. Dhinakara Sundar turns a new leaf by showing his new set of works
executed on the lotus leaf. He employs a laborious chemical process to remove the
wax-like effect off the leaf's surface, maintain its veins' network, and let the paint to

His lotus leaf paintings have calm and meditative qualities about them, sans any
reference to outside reality. Mostly shades of blues, greens, yellows, oranges and
white, the colors are powders used ordinarily in kolam (floor decorations) mixed
with water. The works displayed by Sundar with its frames-aligned in accordance
with the room spaces-and the mounts serve to enhance and create an ambience
within the interior. By placing one or more leaves occasionally within the frames,
the creator makes the empty spaces carriers of positive energies. The simplicity of
materials underscores every frame.

Beginning his experiments in mid-1990s, it was a laborious and meticulous task of

sourcing information that S Sundar undertook to find a method of painting on the
leaf surface. Primarily a print maker, his experimentation on the lotus leaf earned
him a scholarship to travel to Japan in the year 2000-2001. He also had one-man
shows at Kyoto.

The exhibition continues till December 17, 2003, at the Ashvita Art Gallery.
Monday, December 29, 2003

Deccan Herald » Art Reviews » Full Story

Design versions
The three young artists from Chennai, who showed together at Lakshana (December 16 to 26),
have little in common so far as their styles and themes are concerned, sharing only a preference
designing their compositions. S. Dhinakara Sundar relies here on the canon of old Japanese
wood-prints which he studied during a year-long stay in that country. Although he proves to be
well familiarized with its motifs and aesthetic methods, he appropriates the same for the
decorative attractiveness they evince. It appears that he is drawn primarily to the vibrant
patterns they create, and adopts it without a sign of interpretation except for purely formal
manipulations. Such come when the artist spreads traditional shapes in a repeated rhythm, adds
to those fragments of contemporary imagery, otherwise combining the former with elements
from the Indian miniature repertoire or abstracting the whole.

N.S. Satish Kumar may be more sincere in his fantasy flights into a parallel world of feminine
grace amid organic blossoming. At least, the spectator is able to notice his efforts to impregnate
the canvases with atmosphere.

This, however, happens in a somewhat vague manner once more threaded into a dense design of
monotonous floral details. The Art Nouveau-resembling sinuosity of silhouettes furthers the
artificial effect. Only K. Gukanraj can be justified for his design-anchoring, since his field belongs
to ceramic vases and other objects of decoration. When simple and well balanced within their
archaic and Far Eastern inspirations, the pieces are pleasant but not exceptional.
(Lakshana, December 16 )
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Arts » Art
November 28, 2009

Chennai art in the age of globalization

Ashrafi S. Bhagat

Increased space
The space for art was enhanced not just physically but ideologically. During the last one-and-a-
half decades, there have been art auctions, seminars, events and documentation. Art shows have
progressed in terms of thematic content such as Nature, mythology, cinema and everyday life,
captured through photography, sculpture, installation, collages and assemblages.
Some shows, “The Marco Polo Diaries”, for instance, were dynamically planned bringing art,
music and food together. The gallery also played a defining role in the “Chennai Sangamam”
festival, with a curated exhibition premised on the tradition of line, titled “The Spy in Black”.
The shows here have been provocative, titillating, engaging and visually delightful.
Artworld’s exhibitions offered variety. Besides showcasing the works of artists from around the
country, especially Kolkata, internationally-known names such as Duccio Berti, Davide
Graziole’s Olaf Van Cleef Kathleen Scarborough and Brigitte Smith occupied centre stage.
Vinnyasa’s single most important exhibition was the one foregrounding the masters and pioneers
of the Madras Art Movement. Taking the cue from here, many galleries extended the idea of
only showcasing artists of the Madras School. Forum Art Gallery’s exhibition ‘Reclaimed’,
organised jointly with the British Council, Chennai, celebrated the achievements of a new
generation of British artists, categorised as the ‘new British sculptors’, who used recycled
materials innovatively in their works. The art scene in Chennai has also seen the emergence of
many young artists. Ashvita showcased the works of Vinay and sculptor Yuvraj. C.
Krishnaswamy painted his canvas through a yoga performance; Dhinakar Sundar’s lotus
leaves had abstract paintings; and during the Chennai Sangamam there was a show of popular art
featuring calendars, match box designs and stickers.
Sumukha showcased Ganesh Selvaraj’s assemblages and paintings, Aparajithan’s paintings and
B.O. Sailesh’s computer generated sculptures. Lalit Kala Akademi, as usual, exhibited the
creations of artists working out of their own studios. Noteworthy among them were Benitha
Perciyal, M. Siva, Jacob Jebaraj, N. Ramachandran, N. Srinivasan, K. Balasubramanian, Mark
Rathinaraj, Santhanam Krishnan, Umashankar, George K.

Online edition of India's National Newspaper

Friday, Sep 06, 2002

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Art exhibition
TO CELEBRATE the 50th year of Indo-Japan diplomatic ties, ABK-AOTS
DOSOKAI, Tamil Nadu Centre is organising an art exhibition on
September 6, 10.00 a.m. at DBS galleria, 31A, Cathedral Garden Road
(near Hotel Palmgrove).
Titled `On the theme Japan in the eyes of an Indian Artist', it will
showcase S. Dhinakara Sundar's works.
Mr. Masayuki Tsuchikawa, Consul, Consulate General of Japan,
Chennai, will open the exhibition and Dr. Alphonso Aruldoss, Principal
(retired), Government College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, will offer
The Vice Consul, Ms. Keiko Nakano, will offer felicitations and preside
over the concluding ceremony on September 8 at 4.00 p.m.
For details, ring up 3740318.
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Creative route to fame

Dhinakara Sundar's forte to paint on lotus leaves took him to Japan on a fellowship,
where he learnt their ancient tradition of wood block printing and sumi painting. His
creations are on show at the DBS Galleria from September 6 to 8.

IT WAS indeed a rare opportunity for young artist Dhinakara Sundar from Chennai to have got the fellowship from Bunkacho Agency of
Cultural Affairs, Tokyo, to go to Japan for a year from June 2001, and study their ancient tradition of wood block printing and also teach
those interested there to paint on lotus leaves, a method he had invented.
The technique of wood block printing originated in China and was introduced in Japan over 120 years ago, according to Dr. Masao
Takenaka, through whose help Dhinakara was not only able to observe but also learn the ancient Japanese traditional techniques of
calligraphy and sumi painting. The art of calligraphy is practised avidly even today by the Japanese.
While Dr. Takenaka taught calligraphy to Dhinakara, he arranged for world famous artist Akira Kurosaki to teach him sumi painting and
wood block printing. In sumi, they use mostly a single colour, that is, black, and only once in a while, just a couple of other tints. But
with that minimal approach itself, they bring out the strength of the figure/s depicted through the specialised technique. After learning the
technique, Dhinakara applied brighter watercolours to create sumi paintings, which were highly appreciated. In fact, he did a few sumi
paintings on lotus leaves too. For the wood block printing, a special type of wood is used which while being quite strong also enables
engraving clear lines with special tools. The printing is done by hand and not in a press. To create a single multicolour composition and
achieve depth, several blocks would be needed, as in traditional techniques of etching. Kurosaki also taught Dhinakara how to use the
needle and choose the right kind of wood for the block.
An alumnus of the College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, Dhinakara, while aiming to do something different, chose to try painting on lotus
leaf. Through his experience in print making, he experimented with a few ideas before settling to use nitric acid and chlorine, which not
only helped to remove the natural wax coating on the leaf but also rendered it resistant to fungal and insect attacks. Once applied, the
colours too become water resistant and their purity is retained. He taught this technique to the Japanese students who evinced interest in
learning new things.

As lotus leaves are widely used in the rituals in the Japanese Buddhist temples, painting on them caught their fancy and the students got
involved in learning the technique. Dhinakara found that the natural colours made in Japan were rich and when applied on the green
surface of the lotus leaf, they created a unique glowing effect.
The Nippon Christian Academy, Kyoto, where Dhinakara stayed after the first two months in Tokyo, also sponsored an exhibition of his
creations in September 2001. His second show was held at the Kyoto City International Foundation. What he considers the best thing to
have happened for him in Japan, besides learning new techniques, is the opportunity to have met and interacted with the pre-eminent
American artist Frank Stella, who held a solo show there. An artist, who is equally adept at painting, printmaking and sculpture, treated a
much junior artist like Dhinakara as his equal, which has left a lasting impression on the youngster.

Dhinakara has brought enough materials to continue wood block printing in Chennai at least for a year, and he wishes to teach the
technique to others. Simultaneously, he is also trying to identify the proper type of wood and paper locally. Dhinakara Sundar's paintings
and prints made in Japan are being exhibited at the DBS Galleria, 31A, Cathedral Garden Road, from September 6 to 8. The show is
sponsored by India-Japan Diplomatic Relationship, ABK-AOTS Dosokai, Tamil Nadu Centre.

He is an artist who has been perfecting a less known form of art. An adept young artist who has
been acquiring newer skills to use unconventional media.
S.Dhinakara Sundar a 28-year-old graduate of
the College of Arts and Crafts in the city has
traversed the distance to the land of rising sun,
to pursue art. He has moved off the beaten track
even when he was pursuing his formal course.
Collography according to the artist was not
something that is usually opted for. It just turned
out to be a challenge for him and also the route
to awards and to a Japanese Government
Fellowship programme for artists from abroad.
His forte is to use materials like cloth, bits of
leather, cardboard, mats and so on, which are
treated with some materials and then used as
medium for art prints. The artist has also been
perfecting such techniques as etching on lotus leaves, which are treated with acidic water and
rendering smooth and translucent.
Painting on such things as old scan and X-
ray films, discarded compact discs and on
lotus leaves is other things, which engage
his attention.
Among the fascinating works on the not-
so-usual media that Sunder uses is ``The
Spiritual Centre’’ which presents a
landscape of spirit. His woodcuts dwell on
dreams, emotions and the seasons.
Ultimately the artist has one thing to say ``I
have been trying to transform traditional ideas to suit modern approaches’’.

Artists Directory >S. Dhinakara Sundar

Date Of Birth : 05.06.1972
Education: B.F.A. M.F.A,
Govt, College of Fine Arts, Chennai.
Participated in All India Exhibition:
State Lalit Kala Academy of art exhibition 1992,93,95,97,2000,2003.
6th ,7th And 8th Rashtriya Kala Mela Organised by Lalit Kala Academy,1995.
All India Karnataka Chitra Kala Parishata at Banglore,1994,95,97,98.
All India Art Exhibition Andhara Pradesh,1998.
All India Art Exhibition Nagapur,1995,96,97,99.
All India Art AIFACS Exhibition,New Delhi,1997,98,2000,2003.
All India Art Exhibition Rajasthan,1997,98.
All India National Exhibition,Cochin,2004.
Participated in International Exhibitions
Mini Print International Cadaques,Barcelona, Spain 1996,97,98,99.
International Painting exhibition ART 95,USA.
International Printing exhibition Taiwan,1995.
International exhibition Sapporo Japan,1997.
International Catholic art exhibition New Zealand,2001.
International painting exhibition Indiana USA,2001.
Art Biennale of Sydney Australia,2001.
International exhibition New York USA,2001.
Himeji art exhibition Japan,2001.
i.m.a.art International exhibition Japan,2001.
Print Biennale Osaka,Japan 2002.
Japanese Print Tokyo,Japan 2002.
Organised/conducated/Co-ordinated exhibition
Art Centre International Airport Chennai,1992-93.
Chola Art Gallery at Cholla Sheraton Hotel,chennai in 1993.
Lalit Kala Academic,chennai,1998.
Vinayasa Art Gallery,chennai 1999.
Vinayasa Art Gallery ,chennai,2000.
Nippon Christian Art Academy,Kyoto Japan,2001.
International Community House,Kyoto,Japan 2002.
DBS Art Galleria,chennai 2002.
Lakshana Art Gallery,Hyderabad 2002.
Alliance Francaise,Pondicherry,2003.

Artist Camp:
Government College Of Arts & Crafts at Mamallapuram,1995.
Lalit Kala Academy conducted by British Council at Chennai in 2000.
Amethyst contucted by British Council,Chennai,2002.
Hotel Residency Conducted by Govt.of Tamil Nadu Traffic Police,2002.
Amethyst Conducted by All India Tourism,Chennai 2003.
Painting WorkShop Conducted by Aswitha Art Gallery,Chennai 2003.
Samhita Art camp ,New Delhi, 2003.
South Zone cultural Center,Govt.College of fine Arts,Dhanushkodi, 2004.
III Bharat Bhavan International Print Biennial Award held at Bhopal, India,1995.
16th Annual Exhibition of art by the Art and Crafts improvement assocation,Tamil Nadu, 1994.
Award Given by Japanese Government BUNKACHO The agency of cultural affairs Tokyo Japan 2001.
Himeji Art Exhibition Hon'ble mention award Japan, 2001.
Citation given by ABK-AOTS DOSOKAI, Tamil Nadu Centre,Chennai, 2003.
All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society,New Delhi, 2003.
#10,Veera Chetty Street,Puliyanthope,Chennai-600 012.
Ph: 91-44-2667 1161, 26612920, Fax : 26673805.
E-Mail: dhinakaras72@yahoo.co.in, shaptha@rediffmail.com
"Forms & Structure I"