EXHIBITION 'In Search of Fragments' solo show of paintings by celebrated Madras Art Movement artist C. Douglas > 8th to 28th July 2018 - Delhi Events

EXHIBITION 'In Search of Fragments' solo show of paintings by celebrated Madras Art Movement artist C. Douglas > 8th to 28th July 2018

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Venue : Akar Prakar, First Floor, D-43 Defence Colony
Paintings C. Douglas
Paintings by C. Douglas
Time : 11:00 am - 7:00 pm (Sundays & Public holidays closed) Add to Calendar 08/07/2018 11:00 28/07/2018 19:00 Asia/Kolkata EXHIBITION 'In Search of Fragments' solo show of paintings by celebrated Madras Art Movement artist C. Douglas Event Page : https://www.delhievents.com/2018/07/exhibition-in-search-of-fragments-solo-show-paintings-madras-art-movement-douglas-akar-prakar-defence-colony.html Akar Prakar, First Floor, D-43 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024 DD/MM/YYYY - Exhibition on View

Entry : Free

Venue : Akar Prakar, First Floor, D-43 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024
Venue Info : www.akarprakar.com | Map | Nearest Metro Station - 'Lajpat Nagar(Violet Line)'

Event Description : 
EXHIBITION 'In Search of Fragments' solo show of paintings by celebrated Madras Art Movement artist C. Douglas

Chennai based artist C. Douglas’ work, by which one also means his life, since the two cannot be separated, is a constant process of negotiation. These include several identities - as an artist from another state living in Chennai; as an artist from within Chennai who lives in the Cholamandal Artists’ Village and as an artist who is an integral part of the Madras Art Movement but creates work that cannot be easily fitted within the nativist ideology of the movement. While such identity dilemmas confront most artists, Douglas is not only conscious of it but this awareness also informs his art. As a result, he sees himself as an insider/outsider in various contexts, with a predominating sense of being the latter.

Douglas’ works in this exhibition capture his journey from the 1990s until the last few years. The works from the 1990s mark the time when he had begun working on his characteristic grey works, influenced by German Expressionists. To him, this neutral colour represented a liminal state that embraced vulnerability over heroism and uncertainty over finality. Crumpled and coated with sand and grey pigment, these paintings have an inherent ‘slowness’ as the images, of lighthouses, fetal forms and nebulous figures, slowly emerge into view due to the way they catch light. Unhurried and muffled, his paintings have the quality of an echo where there is both a presence and an absence.

‘That is complete/ This is complete/From the completeness comes the completeness/If completeness is taken away from completeness, Only completeness remains’ is a verse from the Upanishad that Douglas is fond of quoting. Alongside this quote extolling the notion of completeness, he often refers to the Zen notion of emptiness. Seemingly contradictory, for him notions of emptiness and fullness are merely different sides of the same coin.  As a result, apart from the echo, the mirror where there are both all forms and none is a repeated image in his works.  The mirror also serves as a metaphor to reflect on the way identity is formed through a constant process of interaction between the self and the other.

The notion that identity is not constant but evolves/is meant to evolve with time is also reflected in his artistic identity that has been metamorphosing with time. From his dark works of the 1990’s and early 2000s, in 2008 he moved to a series of works that embraced flat surfaces and colours. This Missed Call series (2008) engages with the idea of presence and absence using the ‘missed call’ as a metaphor. Fragmentation, absence and emptiness are conveyed in these paintings through a non-hierarchical arrangement of disjointed mannequins, broken ladders, phones with receivers off the hook, plastic flowers, toy birds etc. Through these missed call-like representations, where there could be a presence 'within' an absence, he creates a sense of expectation among the viewers. As Douglas writes, the series ‘is so much about waiting and simulation. We miss what is original, what is real: the presence’.

Following the Missed Call series, Douglas embarked on the The Blind Poet and Butterfly series (2012). This series marked a shift in his style wherein he takes his work forward not by building upon the flat coloured, sparse imagery of his previous Missed Call series but by returning to a much earlier style of working that was densely coloured and layered. This non-linear method of reference is reflective of his larger engagement with recurrence in his Blind Poet series wherein the subject (poet) becomes the style (poetic) and vice versa. Metamorphosis and transformation are constant concerns in these works as Douglas makes repetitive use of images of butterflies, cocoons and caterpillars. The open-ended nature of the meaning making process is evident even in the dynamics between the poet and his art; the butterflies although originating from the poet, once created, no longer remain only in his sand crusted and tactile world as they glow in shades of ultramarine and red ochre.

He says, “There is so much of stress on the body in the South. Santhanaraj’s work had bloody bleeding lines. They are expressive. Similarly Joseph James talks about Paniker’s ‘nervous lines’. They are like body or palm prints.”  In Douglas’ works of the 1990’s, he brings the body into his work through the material. He stains the paper with tea, crumples the paper to create texture, stitches it and applies sand. In a process that evokes the regenerative metaphor of the earth and rain, he uses water-based pigments that penetrate deeply, soaking the paper and becoming one with it.

In Douglas’ works in the last decade, there is a clearer delineation of the figure. Within the Madras Art Movement where identities were being forged on the basis of collective identities of language, culture, or region, Douglas addressed the human being on a one-to-one basis.


Born in Kerala in 1951, C. Douglas is one of the most collected artists of the Madras Art Movement. He retains the essence of Kerala in the form of theories and words read during his boyhood and the story of an early encounter with existential literature. He attended Balan Nair’s school for a year. During the period, he met K Damodaran in Tellicherry. Consequently, he took admission in the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Madras (1971). He was in the ceramic section and he concentrated on terracotta and ceramic vases. He had a special place for K Ramanujam, whom he called an anti-hero during his years in college. He began spending his weekends at Cholamandal, hence he was in touch with Ramanujam. Ramanujam’s death in 1973, his shift from the Cholamandal Artist’s village to Germany where he was caught between the art and the real world, brought about a change in his outlook of his role as an artist and his responsibilities as a member of the family. Germany taught him the importance of painters like Paniker and Ramanujam through their lens. He was exposed to the world of Abstract Surrealism through several visits. He turned to figurative Abstractions in 1985 to 1995 and his works speak volumes on modernist poetry. He worked with paper, cloth, sand tea stain, and he would often walk on the paper, and crumple it in order to create a surface of his own. There is an assumption that the man with bandages on his head in the Douglas’ series, Missed Call (2008) is in actuality a self-portrait of the suffering he had endured. Douglas is a voracious reader of contemporary philosophy and poetry, and he believes the future of art lies in dialogue and reading.

The artist lives and works in Chennai. AkarPrakar has shown his work in 2008 at Kolkata and Chennai and is showcasing his works, from late 1990’s till recently in New Delhi. 

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EXHIBITION 'In Search of Fragments' solo show of paintings by celebrated Madras Art Movement artist C. Douglas > 8th to 28th July 2018 EXHIBITION 'In Search of Fragments' solo show of paintings by celebrated Madras Art Movement artist C. Douglas > 8th to 28th July 2018 Reviewed by DelhiEvents on Saturday, July 28, 2018 Rating: 5

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