Folk-inspired acrylic paintings are set in motion in this AR-enabled art exhibition in Chennai
Folk-inspired acrylic paintings come to life in this augmented reality exhibition of works by Karnataka-based artist Manjunath Wali
Birds flutter as the leaves of a coconut palm gently sway. All around them are mud houses – in bright hues of blue, red, peach and green – clinging to each other. The structures rest on what appears to be a river: the water ripples as the moon rises higher and higher, against the passing stars. A static acrylic work, rather abstract, of folk inspiration, thus comes to life when a screen is attached to it.
At T Nagar’s picturesque Vennba Gallery, 10 of these works by Karnataka-based artist Manjunath Wali are brought into motion using augmented reality (AR), in an exhibition titled Folk Phorescence.
Wali’s first solo exhibition in Chennai, the exhibition features 28 of his works, made in media such as charcoal, pens, pencils and acrylic. While 11 of them are AR-enabled (rendered by Vennba’s design team), the rest give insight into Wali’s affinity for folk motifs and how he intertwines them with contemporary elements.
Loaded with meaning and recurring images of village landscapes, the canvases are intended to introduce an urban audience to the simple joys of the countryside. “I am interested in the folk style of architecture and am inspired by historical monuments. I thought I could merge them into contemporary landscapes as well,” says Manjunath who spent his childhood in Huvina Hipparagi in Bijapur district of Karnataka.
His own village, especially when he dresses up at parties with “a combination of colors splashed on the walls”, has served as a muse on many occasions. The series presented, which screams happiness and nostalgia, is largely inspired by familiar landscapes and forgotten scenes from his childhood.
The artist, in fact, says he was confused when he saw the AR version of his own work. “My birds weren’t flying on the canvas, but they were flying on the screen!” he’s laughing. These builds can be viewed on any device through an app called Artivive.
In contrast to this interactive series stand his equally intricate black and white works. These are his favorites. “Black and white works are very difficult. Especially when it is necessary to show the dimension of a single tone. This is a risky task! he says.
Made using charcoal, pen and pencil, Manjunath takes a single object and creates a world within it. In the piece titled Live Together, the artist zooms in on the facade of a truck, on which he depicts houses, castles, fragments of doors and windows, roofs and mud tiles, and juxtaposes a landscape. serene and mountainous.
Perched atop the truck are dozens of birds. For Manjunath, birds are metaphors for happiness and freedom – and so most of his canvases feature a bird or two. “Before, I used to experiment with different styles to come up with a bird figure. Lately, my birds have also been inspired by folk art,” he adds.
Unwind, another acrylic work in varying shades of brown, shows a gramophone that encapsulates similar architectural and natural elements – birds also make an appearance here, as the gramophone is an allegory of liberated and therapeutic experience.
Manjunath always returns to “once upon a time” in his works. “I represent that era. I want future generations to know more about the village architecture and traditional objects. He has been working around this theme since 2011 and then plans to shape sculptures in fiber and bronze, while keeping the same concept.
Folk Phorescence is on view at Vennba Gallery, T Nagar, through August 31.