Artist Elanchezhiyan Pichaikannu has dedicated his latest solo exhibition to the bull and Jallikattu, a sport that has divided opinion along lines of culture and animal rights, among others, across India. A work in bronze and granite shows two men riding high on a bull as they try to tame it during Jallikattu. Another work shows a man trying to grab the bull by its tail. The exhibition, titled “The Eternal Waiting”, is being held at Art Positive gallery.
“Bulls are an important part of our culture. The animal does not consider Jallikattu as a game,” he says. Though he is opposed to the bullfight tradition that is a part of Pongal celebration in Tamil Nadu, Pichaikannu, 36, avoids making a strong comment through his work. His sculptures are restricted to stylised representations of the animal.
Pichaikannu captures the powerful stance of a bull gearing up for the fight or posing in its full glory. “As an artist, I only watch what is happening around me and try to depict that through art,” he says. Pichaikannu, who belongs to a family of farmers in Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu, was responsible for looking after the bulls after he returned from school. When he moved to Chennai for better job opportunities, the artist says that he missed his ritual with the animals. The exhibition is an ode to them.