Great Artist, Art Master Thotta Tharani press meet held recently and his paintings were there.


Thota Tharrani is one of the most creative people of our times. He has been visiting the sets since a very tender age. His keen observation, artistic hand, creativity and uniqueness is what makes him stand apart from the rest of the people. He has been helping his dad in creating sets from the age of twelve. He has been working in the industry and at the same time pursuing his interest in art also. He is a man of several interests and excels in all that he does. He is one person who has created set of Dharavi Slums which most people refused to believe and took it for real. The grand sets of Thiruda Thiruda, the massive sets for Arjun Movie of Meenakshi Amman which even Maduraites would not be able to tell apart, the transperant and colourful bus of Kaadhalan and the Grandeur Glass house for the movie Sivaji, the boss and an endless list of achievements and laurels. This has only been possible with his keen sense of observation and recreation.

Thota Tharrani has completed more than 45 years in the Indian Cinema. He has completed more than 175 feature films as a Set Designer and Art Director including three foreign productions: Pondichery, Dernier Comptoir Des Indes {French}, Hanuman {French} and Branchie 1999 {Italian}. He is a distinguished art director in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam film Industries. His expertise in magnificient and larger than life sets have been well appreciated and also awarded. He few National awards and many state awards to his credits and the title “Padmashri” in the year 2001 and an Honorary Doctorate in Arts.

With all his name and fame he yet believes in designing on paper and is also very particular about designing on inch graph paper so that all the designs are on scale and can be easily erected. One will definitely fall short of words if they start talking about his realist sets of Nayakan or grandeur of the sets of Thiruda Thiruda or Mudalvan or Sivaji. His sets have been well appreciated and acknowledged by audiences for over three decades.

Anything and everything inspires the artist in Thota Tharrani. His subjects are free flowing and never forced. Tharrani’s eye for detail in the most trivial day to day nuances reflects beautifully in his art.

His strong academic background has helped fine tune his natural skills. At School, Art fascinated him more than his textbooks and he brought forth a large number of drawings in the classroom. When he was barely twelve years old, he contributed a number of drawings towards the Madras Art Club and his work was greatly appreciated.

He enrolled in the Government College of Arts & Crafts at the age of 17 in 1966. During the five years in College, Tharrani gave his heart and soul to paper and pencil. In 1971, he passed his post Graduate Diploma in Mural Painting with distinction. In 1976 an opportunity every artist would desire for came by, in the form of a scholarship from the Government of France, for deserving students of painting. So Tharrani went to Paris where he studied printmaking under S.W. Hayter at his studio ‘Atelier-17’ (1976-1977)

Today his travel across the globe has drawn substantial acclaim from the United States of America, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

His visit to Japan under the auspices of the Japanese foundation led to his participation in the “Living in Seasons” in Toyoma, Japan. He has hosted many one man shows in India as well as abroad.

His versatile creations stand tall at destinations in France at the Archives Municipals de Bordeaux, Ecole des Beaux-Arts Bordeaux, Tourism de l’Inde, Paris, and Maison de l’Inde, Paris.

He is an artist whose creativity and style reflects in his works. His works consist of paintings, murals, paper collages, wooden montages and so on. The use of colours extend from a splash of bright hues to monochromatic in his latest Series which represents his versatality and his ability to blend his creativity & imagination that is innate in him. His works speaks for itself . He is one of the few people who has not restricted himself with any one particular medium. He has used everything right from pencil, chalk, Colour pencils, crayons, pastels, acrylic, watercolours on canvas, paper, boards, blackboards, sunmica, and ceramic murals. He has also largely experimented with paper collage and later on with wooden montages. Each of his works has an unsaid saga behind them. Some of his collections can be seen at the following places:

• Archives Municipales De Bordeaux, France
• Ecole des Beaux Arts Bordeaux, France
• Tourism De L’Inde, Paris, France
• Maison De L’Inde, Paris, France
• Mitsubishi Corp., Calcutta, India
• ECC, India
• Hindustan Motors, India
• Air India, Mumbai, India
• SPIC, Mumbai, India
• National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India
• KCP Chennai & New Delhi, India
• Deccan Hospital, Hyderabad, India
• The Catholic Syrian Bank, Trichur, India
• TAFE, Chennai, India
• RANE, Chennai, India
• Madras Rubber Factory, Chennai, India
• Chemplast, Chennai, India
• National Art Gallery, Chennai, India
• The Hindu, Chennai, India
• India Pistons, Chennai, India
• Kumbakonam Jewellery, Salem, India
• Gallery Chemould, Calcutta
• Ashvita Art Gallery, Chennai ,India

And many other private companies and individual collections in India and abroad.

His zeal for creating something novel and unique is what keeps him going undeterred. And so the Quest continues………..

PRO:: nikil

Timeline – The Evolution of Perception
“To me, art is devotion. A compulsion. It’s the soul of my very existence. Not a day passes by without me painting …”
As far as his creative impulses are concerned, Thota Tharrani has never hit the pause button in a career spanning four-and-a-half decades. The scale, scope and professional sweep of his works traverse a range of styles, mediums and themes, making the task of putting together a definitive tribute a difficult one.
In “THOTA THARRANI: Timeline – The Evolution of Perception”, the prolific painter attempts to retrace his creative steps by picking out some career-defining canvases from the 1960s to the present day. The selection is about time-lines and trend-setting masterstrokes that have helped the artist establish his own space in the rarefied world of art.
Lines, strokes and colours subtly took possession of Tharrani’s visual memory ever since he was a child. At the age of 12 he contributed a rich body of work to the Madras Art Club. The encouragement he received from the “masters of the golden era” spurred him to go about his painterly pursuits without a break. He joined the Government College of Arts and Crafts and later took specialized training in Fresco in Rajasthan and studied printmaking under S. W. Hayter, at his studio, “Atelier-17” in Paris.
From the powerful sketches of his initial years to his more recent acrylic update on SUMM (his tribute to rural Rajasthan), this is a look at his magnificent oeuvre. The propulsive nature of his strokes and the energy-generating colour dynamics are the essence of his visual idiom. Showcased is a selection from “Force”, “Symphony”, “Ganesha”, “Script Series” and “Rajasthan.” The latest – Tharrani’s take on Texas, as part of his series on “USA Through the eyes of an Indian artist”, also features in this comprehensive selection.
Though Tharrani believes in stylistic consistency, he also loves to flout categorizations and plunge into experiments now and then. His “Script Series”, explores calligraphy as a form of creative expression. “I was fascinated by the beauty of the alphabet in different languages. They lend themselves so well to works of art.”
Famous for his abstracts, Tharrani’s “Force”, “Symphony” and “Symphony of Life” not only reflect the energy of his brush, they also bring out the subconscious components that he infuses into his works, thereby making them worthy of recall. In “Force”, a visual recap of a cyclone he witnessed from his window, the artist uses savage brush strokes to depict Nature’s fury. The “Symphony” series is an abstract expression of the orchestration of Western classical music. With blotches of colour and a dramatic line in black running through, the artist pays tribute to awe-inspiring notes from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” “Western orchestras are an elaborate affair. There are notes emanating from a hundred instruments at the same time. I pick out notes that stimulate me, interpret the sounds and the mood with my own visual language.”
Over the years, the artist has revisited his themes time and again to add fresh interpretations to them. “Different moods inspire different strokes. The pastoral beauty of Rajasthan and the majesty of our gods and goddesses are a constant on my mind. So it’s natural that I revisit these themes as a creative respite from occasional bouts boredom.” There are recurring motifs too – like the peacock or the cycle. “These are reflective of fluidity and movement.”
The many times National Award winning set designer believes that his film work and artistic vocation complement each other. “It’s rewarding to be involved with the two. I guess my flair for scale, light and colour comes from my experience with designing true-to-life sets for films.” Not surprising that the words “big, bold and bright” are fundamental to Tharrani’s visual idiom. There’s a network of impact-making earthy and Indian tones and an inimitable play of geometry and intrepid lines. Even his spirited excursions with themes revolving around gods and goddesses stand out for their creative exuberance.
By presenting a judicious selection from his ever-evolving, never-retreating compendium, Tharrani invites art-lovers to experience the visual mechanics of his work up-close in this single show. From his celebrated abstracts and awe-inspiring water colours, spur-of-the-moment oil paintings and interesting mixed media works to spontaneous pen-and-ink drawings and black-and-white sketches, the repertoire is remarkable.
“Having juggled two lives for 45 years, I must confess, it’s not been easy. I’ve been set-hopping by day and painting by night. Art rejuvenated me after frenetic film schedules. It also supported me monetarily during those trying times in the fickle film world. It has, and will remain a constant in my life…”
Pro:: nikil
Kumar srinivas
Photo/video journalist