Being a compassionate observer all through his life, artiste Srinivas Nayak has witnessed how his Lambada community went through cultural breakdown and transformation over the decades. From being once culturally-rooted and diverse community, Lambadas are no longer yearning for identity as the artiste feels that the majority of the community people would like to come out of the taboo and stereotype surrounding them. His art work and paintings exhibit the mundane lifestyle of its people and culture.
In search of modernity
“It’s a rare sight to spot a Lambada woman with the ethnic dress. Modernity has seeped into every facet of Lambada lifestyle. The culture had faded into history some 20 years ago. When I had decided to take the community as the theme of my work in 2007, people were gradually moving towards embracing modern culture,” shares Srinivas.The 45-year-old artiste observed that this “could be due to caste discrimination or to get rid of the tag “Lambadas” for various reasons”. “Women have shifted from their mandatory ethnic dress to saris. As so much artwork goes into designing their dresses, at times, it proves cumbersome to make and design ornaments. Some people I came to know have removed facial tattoos through surgery. They no longer want to identify themselves with the tribe,” he adds.
Born into a Lambada family in Erracheruvu thanda in Nalgonda district, Srinivas studied Applied Arts in JNAFAU in the city in 1991. Under the guidance of Dalit artiste Ramachandram, Srinivas had learnt portrait art. “Later, I got a job as artiste-cum-photographer in the College of Agriculture in Jagtial. It was in 2008 that I showcased my artwork at Lakshana Art Gallery near Masab Tank. Of 12 paintings, eight were sold earning me a good market. Famed artiste and filmmaker B Narasing Rao trained me and encouraged me. Recently, I exhibited my work in New Delhi’s Lalit Kala Akademi,” he added.
Flow of art
A master in sketching figurative paintings, Srinivas draws figures and anatomy with a free hand. However, he doesn’t want to be tagged as a “Lambada painter” as it obstructs his artistic flow. “Painting my people on canvas gives me a sense of belongingness. Not many have explored the beauty of the Lambadas. A lot of hard work and patience went into it over the years. Bringing down too many ornaments and making it more cubical is what I do before I visualise a painting. And of course, colour exercise and rich tones will give a royal look,” he says adding that he drew 400 plus paintings and portraits.
Role in TS agitation
Srinivas’s art work was recognised by people during the Telangana agitation in 2002 when he came closer to writers and poets from Telangana. “I drew paintings for each and every literary work that was exhibited before people in every meeting held under Telangana Writers Association,” says Srinivas who received numerous awards and felicitations for his work.
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