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T.Vaikuntam

My village gave me the music the folklore the festivities and much more.”  – Vaikuntam
Thota Vaikuntam was born in Andra Pradesh in 1942. He completed a Diploma in Painting at the College of Fine Arts and Architecture from Hyderabad, in 1970, followed by another Painting and Printmaking degree from the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, in 1972. It was only, however, later that he developed his own distinct style under the guidance of his tutor K G Subramanyan whom he fondly called Mani da.
“When I moved to the city (Hyderabad), I did landscapes, visited railway stations and painted people, but when I met Mani da, he asked me what my USP was. It wasn’t until the early 80s that I found my calling” – Vaikuntam
Vaikuntam finds his inspiration in villages around his state. You will notice that Telangana men and woman are the frequent subjects of his work. The images are often related to celebration or just simple daily activities. These are the images that remind him of his childhood, and his village, which is always home. He was even fascinated by the male artists who dressed up as female characters in the travelling theatre groups that performed in his village. This often makes us wonder if there is a man hidden behind some of his female figures!!
Vaikuntam’s art catches your eye with its bright colours. His strokes are strong, controlled and angular that gives his work a contemporary feel even though the subjects are very traditional. He only likes using primary colours, which he feels gives depth and are essentially Indian. Vaikuntam’s art has a sense of strength, a power that flows from the charcoal or paint he uses.
Vaikuntam held his first solo show soon after he graduated in 1973. Since then he has held many solo and group shows across the country and abroad. His most recent and significant show was Bhaavanaatharangam — A Retrospective, that showed his works from the 1970s to now. He has won many awards, the most important being the National Award for Painting received in 1993, and the Biennale Award from Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal in 1988-89.
“I never imagined the kind of success that I have seen today. I come from very humble beginnings and I’m very grateful that I still get to do what I love the most…create art.”
Today a Vaikuntam is on every Indian art collector’s list. His subjects are traditional, the colours are primary yet his work is so contemporary! So distinct! But what amazes you most about Vaikuntam is what he is as a person – humble, kind and committed to his work and other artists. It is an honour to get an opportunity to work with him, and a bigger one to own his work!