Portraying women in sync with nature

Anjani Reddy
Anjani Reddy

Hyderabad-based acclaimed artist Anjani Reddy strokes varied hues in a unique lyrical way to depict women on canvas

Artist Anjani Reddy's work always showcases women in a serene manner avoiding their emotional expressions of happiness, sadness, anger or irritation.

On this depiction, she says, "When I paint women, I project the inner serenity because I want to share my personal experiences with the viewers. A woman does not have to smile to show that she is happy."

Anjani Reddy, a recipient of the Raja Ravi Varma Samman, sharing about her growing years, says, "I was born on November 27, 1951, the only child to my parents. Ours was an agrarian family with reasonably good holding of agricultural lands in a village Nandi Kandi located 60 km from city on the Hyderabad-Mumbai highway.

Our village house was large with a huge central courtyard filled with cattle a dozen oxen to till the land, cows, buffaloes, a few hundreds of sheep and chicken. Till the age of six I lived in a joint family with my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents.

Later, I was sent to Hyderabad for education where I lived in my uncle's huge house. I used to spend my school vacations in the village. In our house there was a wall calendar with a portrait of Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

I used to often dream about him sitting on a throne with me in his presence. I feel there was some connection which triggered artistic feelings and influenced me to become an artist."

She graduated in Fine Arts from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University (JNTU) in Hyderabad, and a week after graduation, she got married.

"After my second child started attending full-day school, I joined JNTU as a professor of art in 1987, and then immersed myself in painting like never before.

I even hired a studio which was a very bold decision as only a handful of senior artists had their own studios, but I had my pay-check which took care of the rent."

About her first show, she says, "It wasn't long before I set about working towards my first 'one-woman show'. Inspired by rows and rows of homes, women leaning out of balconies, putting clothes out to dry, curving coconut palm trees leaning into homes, beautiful birds – I called the series 'Dwellings'."

What is it that draws you to portray women against the backdrop of nature? She says, "I feel a woman is very much similar to nature; she is soothing, beautiful, plays multiple roles with ease and is delicate like a flower, yet emotionally strong.

My women characters relax in the midst of nature, absorbing the beauty that surrounds her and thinking of something close to her heart while a small bird watches her."

The difference that Anjani sees in her early day paintings and now, is that she has improved technically. She says, "I would say that the image making skills and colour application methods are better now. I am my own critic now; earlier I was not."

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