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When priests in his temple town Srikalahasti were worshipping the deities, Ramesh Gorjala would be rapt in attention. As an infant, he observed the varied rituals closely, and deliberated both on the temple sculptures and the proceedings. Back home, he would dunk his own brush in natural dyes to narrate the mythological tales. The scriptures that he read turned into pictures that he painted. “When I began, I realised that many artists have drawn gods and goddesses earlier. So I started incorporating innumerable figures within the outlines of Hanuman or Krishna and thus incorporated different stories within the same frame,” says Gorjala, 37.
Now, the technique has become his trademark. It has travelled with him from Srikalahasti to the numerous countries here he had exhibited, from London to Hong Kong and Singapore.
After five years, the artist is showing solo in Delhi in an exhibition at the Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Center.
Comprising over 50 works — canvases and wooden relief sculptures — he has brought with him numerous mythological tales intricately painted within figures. If a 7 x 6 ft Vishnu encompasses within it the 10 avatars, among others Matsya, Narasimha, Rama and Krishna, another canvas has Hanuman as a Ram bhakth, who flew over Lanka to deliver Ram’s message to Sita. The two brothers Arjuna and Bheema share one canvas, with stories of Arjuna’s bravery and Bheem’s strength within their curvaceous frame. Krishna and Radha talk to each other in a work, and another has Lakshmi seated with Ganesha.
There is the joyous Kamadhenu too, flying across a canvas with wings attached. Last year, Gorjala had also painted the divine bovine goddess for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after the political leader saw his work on a card he had designed for actor Mohan Babu’s son’s wedding. Since he wanted Kamadhenu, that Gorjala describes as “a sign of prosperity, joy and happiness”, the artist painted it for him on a 6 x 3 ft canvas.
The Srikalahasti-based artist also counts among his collectors American singer-songwriter Beyonce and actor Rajinikanth’s daughter Aishwarya. And those flying into Tirupati can see his mammoth 11 ft x 64 ft artwork, divided into seven parts, featuring Lord Ganesha, Hanuman, Krishna, Vishnu, Matsya and Garuda. “It took over six months to complete,” shares the graduate in art from Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad.
He adds, “It is heartening when people call me and appreciate my work.”
The exhibition at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Center, is on till November 12