Known for his versatile Batik painting, artist Yasala Balaiah has left a great void in the artist community with his passing on Wednesday. He was aged 81 and died of old age-related issues.Batik is a style that uses dye-resistant wax to create elaborate patterns and designs.
The wax is then washed to reveal the batik pattern or the process is repeated to create multiple colours. Balaiah took it to the next level by creating rural imagery using the dyeing technique.Figures inspired by Nakashi and Kalamkari were splashed across the cloth in his works.
Subjects bearing burnt brown skin, sharp, expressive eyes and pointed chins came to be synonymous with his works. Usually, his batik paintings would feature villagers toiling in the fields or going about their daily chores. He often used bright colour combinations that gave the artwork a lot of body and illusion of movement.
Some of his most well-known works are Shakuntala, Mirror Lady, Lambadies, Methukuseema, Geetha Parishrama, Shepherd from the field, and Nagal which glorify the common people working hard to make a living, which were displayed in various exhibitions held in Telangana.
Born in Ibrahimpur in 1939, he had been nicknamed ‘Batik Balaiah’. Fascinated by art, Balaiah finished his MA and BEd in drawing and painting and became an art teacher in 1962. He specially travelled to Hyderabad from Siddipet to learn and understand it.
The turning point came when he visited a Batik exhibition organised by prominent artist Jagdish Mittal at Kala Bhavan. He told his mentor K Rajaiah about wanting to learn Batik and using it in paintings.
Honing his skills further under the guidance of other artists like Vidya Bhushan and K Laxma Goud, Yasala Balaiah started his experiments in learning the dyeing methods and soon excelled in it. He is survived by his son Prakash who is one of the few artists following this style of Batik paintings.
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