Let’s talk cows

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 27 July 2017

I don’t give messages. My art is a response to what is happening around me and within me. I shy away from explaining the ‘meaning/message’ of my work. I’d rather like that each one finds their own meaning and message from my work. The only reason I put my art out in public is that I hope to spark a thought or question

We chat up artist and writer Sudha Pillai who is showcasing her work Gauland in Bengaluru

Gauland is my response to what is happening in our country today. It probes the idea that man is letting the animal in him take over. What will happen then? Will he lose his ability to differentiate between right and wrong? If that is the case, then will it annihilate a nation?” wonders Sudha Pillai, artist, writer and founder of A Sunny Square (www.asunnysquare.com). Pillai is currently exhibiting her artwork titled ‘Gauland’ in Bengaluru. It is a collection of quirky artwork with a deeper meaning where you can see humans dressed in sophisticated attires with the heads of a cow.

Pillai, who created the drawings using pen and ink and later digitally coloured them, says that the use of flat colours is deliberate. “Gauland stemmed from a sleepless night spent on Twitter land. As I read tweet after tweet ranging from opinions to observations to responses, I came across more than a few monsters. It was as if they had unleashed the animal in their human selves and in the process lost their ability to differentiate between what is right and wrong. After all, this is the ability that separates man from animal, right?” she asks.

Pillai points out that when you look around in the country, you will see this unleashing of the animal in all its glory and the stupidity and vileness of some. “This got me thinking and Gauland came into existence, where the animal in man rears its head. Why cow? If I don’t give precedence to the cow, it might offend some. But jokes apart, cow is currently the super star of animal kingdom in our country,” she quips.

When asked if the series aims at sending a message, she promptly says, “I don’t give messages. My art is a response to what is happening around me and within me. I shy away from explaining the ‘meaning/message’ of my work. I’d rather like that each one finds their own meaning and message from my work. The only reason I put my art out in public is that I hope to spark a thought or question.”

Pillai emphasises that she holds on to satire to maintain her sanity in this contemporary world.

Gauland is based on an imaginary story that in the year 5017, archaeologists unearth a few artworks from where once stood a nation called India. These works have human figures in bright backgrounds and everyday situations. But what intrigues the experts is that the humans have cow-heads and they are now wondering how that happened. The unearthed artworks are said to be from the period circa 2017.  “In this context, though I began painting the series in acrylics, I began to think if the experts are going to unearth works from 2017. Then there is a possibility that these works might also be digital prints. So I took my original pen and ink line art and coloured them digitally. Also, it was my way of shaking my head at those who look down upon digital art as no art. Art is art. It has to reach out to you and twist your gut or tickle your funny bone,” she explains.

When asked about her choice of using bright colours, Pillai answers, “It is my interpretation of how the monsters among us don’t live with the tag monster stuck on their heads, instead they can be the most erudite, suave people. There is a false sense of cheer and style hiding the animal in them. Moreover, I am Indian, I like colours. It’s in my blood.”

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