An abundance of green foliage, flowers in resplendent hues, azure wilderness and blue skies filled with clouds that seem to drift in their stillness, gurgling waters flowing through valleys and gorges and lotus leaves that are a recurrent theme, make stark white walls a canvas to nature.
Different seasons, unsung melodies and the wonder and vitality of creation are there for the beholder to appreciate and absorb. For those familiar with his unending tryst with nature identifying his works is as easy as knowing the back of one’s hand. Tell him that and he answers with a smile: “Yes, nature is my source of eternal inspiration, but I never portray scenes of destruction.”
Appreciation is paramount to all forms of creativity and has to be inculcated in through exposure to art from a young age Suryaprakash feels, stating that art has never been a priority for governments who do not value it as a course of study or lucrative profession. Recalling the surprise expressed by a former Chief Minister, who on a visit to the Fine Arts University exclaimed, “You are telling me that students have to waste five years of their life to learn this art,” when he was informed about the five-year BFA course, Suryaprakash says exposure through exhibitions is important to ignite interest in learning and appreciation, which are essential to create a market for art, irrespective of government priorities.
The artist whose works adorn many important institutions in the city and who is responsible for bringing the works of eminent artists to the LV Prasad Eye Institute believes that art provides new insights to both the creator and the connoisseur. For instance, switching over to the acrylic medium from oil painting on which all his early works were based 14 years ago was a real challenge, but he gained a grip over it after struggling for one whole year. “I switched medium as I felt I was getting repetitive with my work. In my old works, my subject occupied the entire canvas. Acrylic added a new element. It helped me explore new facets by providing spaces that added depth and dimension,” he adds.
The artist, who has never been enamoured by human forms or portraits captures scenes from nature on his camera and brings them alive on canvas. Many times, a single painting takes as many as 20-25 days before it is deemed done.
One of the distinctly different paintings is the “abstract series’’ of the 70s, which emerged from the long hours he spent at dump yards in Hyderabad photographing scrap. The riot of colours and shapes, which are in an abstract form to be deciphered as per viewer perception are a free flow of strokes creating patterns and forms that are compelling but hold no particular meaning. “It is for the onlooker to make something of it. The many works that I created based on these scraps for nearly a decade are all abstract and open to interpretation,’’ Suryaprakash explains.
Another deviation from vibrant natural scenes and perhaps a shift from scrap to dead elements in nature was Suryaprakash’s series on dry leaves, one of his most popular works. Dry leaves that fell in a heap and crackled as one walked over them are seen in paintings where one can almost feel their texture and lightness. As the paintings evolved, the artist added a foreground or background of rocks trees or water depending on what inspired him at that moment.
“What I visualise at the beginning and what emerges finally, the spaces, the colours and the forms are constantly changing and are spontaneous processes that emerge until I am satisfied with what I see,” he observes.
An interesting series of Suryaprakash’s paintings on display relate to images captured on camera during his travels abroad. A beautiful painting of a waterfall in Norway shows water cascading over rocks, the white colour literally diffusing out of the canvas and conveying the immense force with which the waters twirled as they touched down.
A series of paintings of the many canals, gondolas, ancient buildings and bridges brings Venice alive through deft strokes of the brush and appropriate shades of colour. Like any other creative work observing the works of masters as well as contemporaries adds depth to an artist’s work and help him expand his horizons says Suryaprakash who shares that he was inspired by artists like the post-impressionist French artist Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh, HS Raza and Ramkumar apart from several other artists of the 17th and 18th century.
Art involves hard work says the veteran painter, who believes that constant learning is important to improve the craft and technique. Although painting is largely seen as an avenue of self-expression it is also a part of culture and humanity the artist feels. “You need to have confidence in yourself to survive as an artist. Your learning is never complete as you are constantly evolving. There is no competition outside. You have to compete with yourself so that you get better every day,” he signs off.