Hyderabad-based artist Ramesh Gorjala’s works are characterised by his focus on Indian heritage through sensitive and detailed portrayal of gods and goddesses from Indian mythology.
Mythology as a subject is not new to the world of art, but what makes Ramesh a force to reckon with is his unique interpretation and expression of the subject.
Ramesh is recognised for the intricate detailing involved in his artistic creations. His latest exhibition ‘Aadi Anadi’, which is currently on at the India Fine Art Gallery, Mumbai, is an expression of his signature treatment of mythology in Kalamkari style through acrylic on canvas.
In his paintings, the artist uses the body of one central protagonist and within it he creates smaller images to tell the story of his protagonist which is usually a figure from Hindu mythology. “It’s the whole story of that particular god within his body,” explains the artist.
He traces back his artistic inklings to his childhood days when he was about 12 years of age. Born in Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, into a family of weavers, art wasn’t a natural way forward for Ramesh. However, growing up, he was surrounded by temples and sculptures that created a lasting impression on him. “I was deeply influenced by the environment I grew up in,” he said.
While the rest of his family was into weaving, there was this one member, his uncle Balaji Teertham, who would engage in artistic pursuits. “My key inspiration was my uncle Balaji, a Ph.D in physics, who is actually a hobby artist and now a National Award winner in Kalamkari. He’s the one who taught me Kalamkari and encouraged me to take up art more seriously,” he says.
Eventually, he enrolled himself into the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, from where he obtained a degree in fine arts.
Ramesh’s colour palette is dominated by red, gold and green through which he creates a rich mood that immediately establishes a connect with Indian mythology. Yet the paintings also have a contemporary appeal. “My protagonists include Shiva-Parvati, Vishnu, Garuda, Bhishma, Radha-Krishna etc. Within each form I have tried to incorporate their stories, using pen, ink, acrylic and mixed media.”
For the intricate detailing in his paintings, Ramesh doesn’t take more than 15 days to finish one. Besides integrating all his subjects into one, the artist sometimes uses text in the background to enhance the mood and add a new dimension. One can also spot the use of a checkerboard pattern, a touch of modernity to the ancient.
As has been the case across the country, art lovers have lapped up his work in the Mumbai exhibition too. His paintings are priced anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 5-6 lakhs. “The sales have been very encouraging and around 22 paintings have been sold so far.”
The artist has had many solo exhibitions and has participated in group shows in both India and abroad. His works have won him several awards and accolades that include the 2000 Mahatma Gandhi Birth Centenary Memorial Award and the 2002 State Award from the AP Crafts Council.