In this section for D’s Art Takes, we pick one artist to showcase their work and creative journey so far. Today, we look at the Indian artist, Thota Vaikuntam.
Amongst the many talented artists from South India we have a stalwart – Thota Vaikuntam. Rich colours and overpowering imagery dominates his canvas, and in his own words – “, “Nobody can make the exact replica of my work. My technique is different. But I have seen copies of my work many times. Once, I was shocked to find copies of my smaller works on a large canvas. I went up to the painter, pointed at a fake, and asked him whether he knew whose artwork it was. He said, ‘It’s Vaikuntam’s’.”
“When I asked him who Vaikuntam was, he said he didn’t know him…”
That is T. Vaikuntam. Original and unapologetic. Born in the Telangana district of Hyderabad, Vaikuntam grew up watching carefully all that e was surrounded with – the men and women, the colours that they wore, what they carried in their arms – their daily habits, postures and movements. He internalized them to a degree that when he transfers it onto the canvas, the pictures seem to have an energy of their own, moving and speaking. So vibrant are the hues of his paintings.
He was particularly fascinated by the male artists who performed as women in traveling theater groups. “…In private I began sketching images which were very Indian, but which I thought were quite shocking. They were very obviously inspired by the spiritual and sensuous tradition that’s part of Indian mythology and art. I hid them from public eye, because I thought they were very sexual.” Forty years ago, art appreciation and acceptance was entirely different than it is today. He has worked hard to create a space for his work, make his voice heard and stand by his signature style.
Born in 1942 in Boorugupali, Andhra Pradesh, Vaikuntam completed a Diploma in Painting at the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad, in 1970, and then another in Painting and Printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, in 1972.
Among his several honours are the National Award for Painting, which Vaikuntam received in 1993, and the Biennale Award from Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal, which he received in 1988-89.
The artist lives and works in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
To learn more about your favourite artist and their creative journey, visit Artist in Focus