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Badami caves found in Karnataka is a testimony to the brilliant works of artisans from the Chalukya period which reigned from 543 AD to 753 AD. The temples here are the typical rock cut architecture that is synonymous with this period. Its mystery, charming as it is, inspires all audiences alike and sure enough it inspired Mr. Manjunath Wali to create a series of works to celebrate and explore these beautiful caves in his paintings. Wali, as he is fondly known by his friends and family, belongs to a village not far from Badami. This gave him an opportunity to be one with the caves for a long time. The boyish wonder in him reminiscences this iconic place through his latest series aptly titled Once Upon a Time.
The word balance has multitude of depth. It could be the physical, inner, societal etc. This painting seems to be an observation of both the external and internal balance. It could also be representational of what the artist had to go through when he moved away from his home town. Working in a city whilst keeping your connections with your organic roots is nothing short of balancing act on a tight rope.
Continuing the use of the word balance as a metaphor, Wali expertly expresses this feeling in this painting. Here the focus seems more centric to the femininity and its poise which creates an equilibrium in one’s life that is unperturbed by external commotion.
The bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds is figurative of what everyone dreams of when they think of a bond that is based on mutual understanding. This painting is mimetic of the artist’s connection with either his brother or a close friend from back home. Here their thoughts seem to merge together reminding them of home and everything that it signifies.
In South India most temples have a tradition of keeping elephants as divine chariots known locally as ambari, that take the deities on their rounds of the holy place. This painting is reminiscence of perhaps one such memory of the artist from his life in a village near Badami. The elements in the painting seems like road map that this ambari would take.
This simple life form has taken a surrealistic shape in the mind of Wali and it takes shape beautifully. It seems intangible with a myriad of things unfolding as the soul of the tree. Yet again this is depictive of the artist’s past. The art work is illustrative and childlike. The elements in the tree continue to be the specific places that the artist remembers from his childhood and he background could be the mundane life in the city.
The transition from a village to the city can be quite daunting. Apart from physical entities that you need to move with, there is whole set of memories that need to be carefully wrapped to take, to remember the parts of you that might or might not have room in the new world. This painting is indicative of all the memories packed and ready for the journey.
The first painting in this title is reminiscence of the beginning of the move and this painting seems to announce the arrival of the artist in the big city with all the pots and pans and the belongings to mark the start of new journey.
This painting is like a carnival filled with a riot of colours. The art work represents all the vibrancy of festivals which are celebrated with much exuberance in the villages of India. The artist has added a whimsical element by making the artwork upside down.
The artworks feature a few elements like the tree,the temple, the houses etc., that are a recurring theme in these set of art works by Wali. They have allegorical importance in his work and connects the audience with his past very well!