S.G. Vasudev: Copper memoir

S.G. Vasudev's art makes one wonder about life, death and all that lies in between

75-a-copper-work-by-vasudev A copper work by Vasudev

He does not sit around waiting for his muse. Instead, S.G. Vasudev, 77, readies drawing sheets and canvases in his studio at night, so that it can come to him first thing in the morning. “The moment I get there in the morning, I feel like doing something,” says the national award-winning artist.

S.G. Vasudev | Mallikarjun Katakol S.G. Vasudev | Mallikarjun Katakol

A man who delights in simple things like growing vegetables in his farm, Vasudev is elated as his first retrospective exhibition is on at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru. At times, the show, that features works done over the last 55 years, puts him in a pensive mood. It reminds him of his early days at Cholamandal Artists’ Village, when he struggled to have one square meal a day. He feels a tad disturbed as he watches The Open Frame, a short movie that recounts his love story with Arnawaz, his first wife. “She used to be my sounding board,” he says. “I stopped painting for two years after I lost her to cancer.”

Over 300 works, including paintings, drawings, cartoons, tapestries, and copper reliefs, form part of the exhibition. The copper mountains and trees leave one spellbound.

Kalpavrisksha, one of his favorite works in the collection, was inspired by D.R. Bendre’s poem titled Kalpavrisksha Vrindavana. “I did that work at the age of 25 when I was a hopeless romantic,” he says with a smile. Trees are a recurring motif in his work. They appear in different shades and shapes, making us ponder about life, death and all that lies in between.