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February 22, 2020 Prajwala GhateArt

Kandi Narsimlu- Painting The Village Life To Preserve Their Stories

Dusky toned human figures, mostly women, draped in their traditional attire; the colourful sarees, adorned with gold jewellery, flower string or gajara in the tightly tied bun along with a big red bindi on the forehead, speak out for themselves, even from the paintings. Even a cursory glance at Kandi Narsimlu’s paintings can take you the traditional village life in Telangana. Though the men seldom appear in these paintings, when they do, their colourful lungis, kurtas and piece of cloth around their necks and shoulders would definitely remind one of the typical Southern village lifestyles. One can observe how the artist has observed and beautifully recreated all his childhood memories on the canvases.

Sign Boards To Human Figures

Narsimlu was born and brought up in a small village in Telangana. His parents were agricultural labours and the school system supported education only till 5th standard. All this led to a lack of education for Narsimlu and other children in his village. However, art was one thing he always liked. Narsimlu started as a sign board helper at a very early age. He started with helping the sign board artists with grabbing their ladders and holding their paint buckets to earn some money and support his family. But slowly he graduated from holding the paint buckets to holding the paint brush. After started painting sign boards, he moved to Hyderabad.

Owing to lack of awareness, Narsimlu didn’t know anything about art as a profession. To him, art meant painting sign boards. However, the exposure to the new city made him realise that there is a world that needs figurative artists, a profession with very few artists to compete with. Soon Narsimlu started painting Indian Gods and Goddesses such as Ganesha and Lakshmi. People would also request him to paint political figures during their birthdays and political rallies. ‘When I started working as a figurative artist, even the movie posters were painted by artists, the digital world was not as developed as it is today.’ Narsimlu said as he mentioned that he also assisted as a banner artist. Soon he built a good reputation and had numerous clients. One such client suggested Narsimlu to pursue his art further and take a course in it. Narsimlu graduated from GNU in fine arts in 1993.

Harmonising Village Life To Paintings

Moving to a bigger city did not modernise Narsimlu. The artist remained rooted to his culture and traditions and thought of preserving it. Thus began the journey of his village based paintings. Narsimlu never liked the labour work, he wanted to do something different in his life. Whenever he visited his family in his village, instead of helping them in the farm he sketched and painted the village labours and farmers. Narsimlu was interested in their working postures, hence he started painting them on his canvas.

Gossiping Ladies

Soon, Narsimlu also started sketching the female forms from the village. The artist saw that the men in the villages worked, they toiled hard in the farms, women o, on the other hand, rked at home and interacted with their neighbours. This made a good premise of the conversation series. ‘Women have more time to gossip. Especially in villages, women meet each other regularly talk a lot. Villagers don’t talk about themselves, they like to talk about others, think about others. This is why most of the subjects in my painting are gossiping women.’ Narsimlu explained the reason behind women subjects. He would observe these gossiping women, their gestures, their postures and then paint them as his subjects.

Preserving the Culture

The subjects in Narsimlu’s paintings are quite traditional. The women are draped in bright printed sarees and are adorned with gold jewellery. They carry cloth pouches instead of leather bags or purses. The houses are simple looking, with very few and basic items in them. When asked to throw light on the matter, the artist said, ‘The villagers have temporarily constructed houses, they believe in simple living. They would paint traditional paintings, motifs etc. on the walls and put rangoli in the verandas. However, now a days even the village people are getting exposed to the modern world. They have TVs in their houses. Slowly, they have stopped following the traditional way of living. But I was to preserve the original culture, hence I paint the rangoli patterns on the women’s sarees.’

Bright Colours To Brighten The Village Life

While talking about his choice of colour palette, Narsimlu explained that the subjects wear contrasting clothes, because they put on whatever they have. ‘Urban people think about fashion, matching the colour of their clothes. Rural people don’t know which colours match and compliment.’

Narsimlu’s human figures are dark dusky and different coloured. One can also observe that these men and women even have green and blue skin tones. The artist said that each village has a ‘gram Devta’, a God or Goddess that the villagers believe in and bow to. These Gods and Goddesses are different from the typical mythological Gods and Goddesses. Villagers don’t have posters and paintings to pray to, they just paint stones and have faith in them. ‘The skin tones of my subject come from these differently coloured stones they believe as their Gods.’ said the figurative artist. He further noted that since the villagers work in hard in the sun all they long, they have a natural tan. This is why most of his subjects are dusky coloured.

Narsimlu’s paintings are simple and have smooth texture, much like the village life that he is trying to preserve. His brush strokes are straight and clean similar to the villagers’ nature. Kandi Narsimlu is preserving the traditional village life through his paintings in all senses.