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Journey of Discovery

Shukla Sawant

By Gayatri Sinha
Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, 2005, pp. 104, price not stated.


One of the key concerns of a monogram on an individual artist is to draw attention to a body of significant work that might find just passing mention in sweeping art historical overviews. Often, the contribution of an artist within a larger collective movement is noteworthy enough to merit a closer scrutiny as the artist may have some inherent qualities that sets him apart from the rest. The painter K.M Adimoolam is one such artist who has consistently charted a different path even though he was closely connected to the developments at the Cholamandal artists’ village, an experimental artists’ commune that came up just outside Chennai in the 1960’s. His work has recently been brought back into the public domain in the form of a book The Art of Adimoolam published by Mapin India in 2005. This is indeed a welcome step in the right direction as one rarely comes across well researched publications on contemporary artists, even though the book casts an eye on a fairly narrow period of his work comprising of paintings painted after 2002.   The book has four distinct segments to it. These sections interspersed with quotations by the artist himself and other critics, effectively lay open the ground for a close scrutiny of his work. The first is a lucidly written essay by Gayatri Sinha the New Delhi based independent curator and art critic. Through this, Sinha maps Adimoolam’s journey as an artist from his student days at the Madras College of Art in the 1960’s to his relatively quite existence today on the fringes of the edge of the modern metropolis of Chennai in Cholamandal. The second section is an overview of his black and white drawings executed in pen and ink on paper and the next section has colour reproductions of his paintings painted in the abstract manner. This ambiguous play between figurative drawings and abstract paintings is one of the most interesting features of the book as it highlights the indistinct nature of the creative process which more often than not has a pendulum like trajectory rather than a clear cut linear path. The rather laconic biography at the end of the book gives us an overview of the numerous exhibitions he has participated in as well as a list of the important collections where his work can be found. While most paintings and drawings reproduced in the book are untitled, a ...

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