Seventy year-old artist Thota Vaikuntam finds the spirit of ordinary country folk endearing. In his latest work, Telangana Panels, the central characters are the men and women from Andhra Pradesh, his birthplace. Telangana women, in particular, are frequent subjects for his works. He aims to capture the vibrancy of the women of his village, who are very sensuous. But while the feminine beauty is a big inspiration, it is the nature of the people of his land that motivates him, he says. “They are not just rustic; they are simple, innocent and rooted to their traditions. At the same time, they are determined and resilient,” says Vaikuntam.
Telangana Panels depicts the Telangana folk in a series of panels, a style that Vaikuntam hasn’t showcased in his painting for about 10–15 years. Vaikuntam says, “I’ve taken my colours from my people in Telangana. I’ve taken details from their everyday lives, stylised them and made them look grand. That’s my intention,” says the artist, who likes using rich primary colours, which give a sense of character and depth to the paintings. He doesn’t like using colours that are a mix of two others because they are not natural. “They don’t exist in surroundings around us, in our everyday life.”
Vaikuntam’s paintings have been exhibited in New York, London and Birmingham.