Lakshmi Reddy’s works narrate stories of stillness
It has been a good journey with art for Lakshmi Reddy. Having retired in November 2021 as a professor in the department of Fashion and Lifestyle Accessory Design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Hyderabad, Lakshmi is exhibiting her works in a show titled Stillness in the Soul — A Transition at Iconart Gallery. With a mix of old and new works, her show features paintings, drawings and sculptures. ‘Avani (Avani Rao Gandra, founder, Iconart Gallery) wanted a show from me ever since the gallery reopened recently. When someone is so encouraging, I thought ‘why not’ and challenged myself,” she shares. Explaining the title of her show, she says“Painting, or any art form, is a tranquilliser, Isn’t it?”
The show symbolises the transition of Lakshmi as an artist. Since her first show in Hyderabad in 1993, Lakshmi has displayed her works in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. That was before she got busy with her academic career at NIFT. Her show at IconArt Gallery comes after a gap of 23 years!
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement
During the pandemic, Cubism inspired her to reflect on the still objects surrounding her at home. Viewing objects from multiple directions, seeing elements and superimposing them to make good composition summarises the Cubist concept, with flatness, geometric reduction and a multiplicity of perspectives as fundamentals. “That made me reflect on how our layered perceptions of a particular situation or an experience differ but, in a way, match the concept of Cubism. While our perception is about emotions, the latter is materialistic, dealing with objects-based things.”
Her 32 works, done over the last four years are based on still life and the forms of pots and vases from the Egyptian, Greek, Oriental and Islamic civilizations that inspired her. Recalling her trips to International museums, she says, “The Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and Islamic pots have the most beautiful forms; each one has a different contour and the space in it is utilized for some purpose – either to put flowers in, as kitchenware, to wash hands or as a hookah. These forms gave me the urge to express myself.”
From painting acrylics on canvas and charcoal drawings to palette knife painting and relief sculptures, Lakshmi experimented with different mediums over the years. In 2021, when she developed an allergy while working with charcoal, she changed the medium to see how her drawing shapes up when translated into relief. In the process, she created two-dimensional carvings in Siporex murals (on stone) and then 3D forms in metal.
Still life on canvas By Lakshmi Reddy
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement
The pandemic was a time to review fundamentals and explore new paths. Lakshmi, who uses different ways of composition, says, “The element of line is primary to an artist. It could come out of a palette knife, brush or pen on charcoal. We need to see how one deals with it to express in different mediums.”
At the time, Lakshmi used to paint one canvas every three days. Those works evoke a sense of quietude and connect to her soul. Grateful to her parents and teachers for where she is today, she says, “One introspects while putting things in perspective analytically. This awareness has a calming effect. I think COVID has done that to all of us; it taught us to accept our surroundings and move on, which is the essence of life.”
Lakshmi says, “Sometimes one may not get the time to paint but it’s okay; that urge to paint still remains; that desire to express is what matters to an artist.”