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Komakula Raja Sekhar’s goats star in his solo art exhibition at Chennai’s Focus Gallery

Artist Komakula Raja Sekhar during an interview with The Hindu, at Focus Art gallery, Chennai
| Photo Credit: Ravindran.R

First, you notice the goats. With distinct personalities and cheeky expressions, they frolic across Komakula Raja Sekhar paintings. “I noticed that goats look different everywhere. In my village, they are smaller, the ones in Shantiniketan are tall, and in Hyderabad they have long ears,” says Komakula, leaning forward earnestly to point out the differences in his paintings.

This attention to detail is evident in Komakula’s solo show Choreographing Nature, now on at Focus Art Gallery. Using pencils, ink pens and water colours on thick acid-free paper, the artist, who was born in Narsipatnam, near Vishakapatnam, brings his childhood alive with cheerful references to home in his work.

Growing up in the village, where he says his father raised pet roosters, some of whom now strut across his canvases, Komakula says he always wanted to be an artist. “I would draw cartoons for school competitions,” he says, adding that his uncle encouraged him to pursue a Masters in Fine Arts at Shantiniketan.

He specialised in printmaking, learning different styles from etching to old school lithography. “I chose it because there are so many possibilities with printmaking, you can play with textures.” he says. Over the years his work evolved gradually, influenced by his travels. He started adding elephants, for instance, after a visit to the Vishakapatnam zoo. And the typical Telangana houses he draws, began getting brighter after he saw the homes in Goa.

One of the paintings on display

One of the paintings on display
| Photo Credit:
special arrangement

Influenced by the iconic artist Laxma Goud, who he met at a studio in Hyderabad, Komakula puts a lot of work into each intricate painting. “When I sit alone, and the paper is empty, I draw a tree trunk,” he says. “Then I put flowers at the base. Then I start work on the leaves, which take a long time.”

He points at a painting to explain how the leaves are drawn and painted in, in a gradient of colour that imitates Nature. “I use coffee, turmeric and tea for the different shades,” he explains, explaining how turmeric tints the leaves a pleasing shade of gold.

“I was working with just browns and blacks earlier, I moved to colour in 2020,” says Komakula, adding that he started with natural dyes and blue-pea flowers for colour, then added in watercolours.

With fluid and confident lines the paintings are vibrant with activity, from elephants sneaking berries off trees to peacocks majestically perched on branches. All surrounded by a collection of red, green and yellow houses, with curly grills, quirky curtains and red tiled roofs. Stating that the detailing takes time, Komakula points at a single green wall of a house, saying that it has been painted in four layers, till the texture looks almost real.

One of the paintings on display

One of the paintings on display
| Photo Credit:
special arrangement

Mayur Shah, who runs Focus Art Gallery and curated this show, praises the 35-year-old artist’s commitment and adds that the work stands out because of Komakula’s attention to detail. Stating that it took a couple of years to collect the 39 paintings and prints that are in the show, Mayur says, “Nothing is monotonous. I’ve not seen any young artist doing this kind of meticulous detailed work before.” 

The show is on till March 10. Focus Art gallery is at 11, Kasturi Estate 2nd Street, Alwarpet, 

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