A realist, and dark artist’s tryst with embroidery

I avoid horror films or anything dark but this embroidery art drew my cynosure because of its brightly coloured beads and threadwork. Using colours and embellishment his artworks lighten heady realism of unrest and extremism today. Presently, working on his next exhibit is the artist – Theegulla Venkanna, at Kalhath Institute, Lucknow. Founded by Lucknow Design Trust in 2017, the centre promotes and trains to sustain the craft of Indian embroiderers in Uttar Pradesh.

Touted to be one of Gen Y’s most promising artists, Venkanna’s achievements as cited on the Gallery Maskara website speaks volumes. 2019 began for him with a solo project Tradition/Transformation curated by Abhay Maskara at Gallery Maskara, Mumbai. In 2018 he participated in an exhibition Inde at Manoir de Martigny, Switzerland. 2017 saw his seventh solo show Looking for Peace at Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai. Brilliantly slotted, in 2016, he was part of a group show TIME, again at Gallery Maskara. His sixth solo show CELEBRATION tooin 2015, was at the same gallery.

image1 (2)

Still Life in Syria, 2018
Pencil and hand embroidery on fabric
47.5 x 47.5 inches (121 x 121 cm)

Love Life III_52 x 51.5 inches _MAK7324Love Life III, 2018
Pencil and hand embroidery on fabric
52 x 51.5 inches (132 x 131 cm)

c0e94ed4-ae73-4ee8-8b8a-57594963cdc9Love You to Death, 2018
Pencil and hand embroidery on fabric
57 x 47.5 inches (145 x 95 cm)

_MAK7329Woman on Top, 2018
Pencil and hand embroidery on fabric
54 x 48.5 inches (137 x 123 cm)

Well, his list of exhibitions since 2010 has a prolific narrative. As one of the 20 artists shortlisted for the SKODA prize in 2010 and 2012 the 39 year old has successfully made a niche for himself in major art collections of America, Japan, Russia and Europe including the Charles Saatchi collection (UK), the Burger Collection in Switzerland, Theo Swagemakers Museum Collection in Netherlands, along with several in India and across the world.

To know the mind behind a plethora of contemporary real and dark paintings, we asked him few pertinent questions.

MD: What is your family background?

TV: I come from an orthodox Brahmin family. Born in 1980 in Gajwel, Telangana, am the eldest one with a younger brother and sister. Sister is married while my brother is a temple priest, in Hyderabad. My father works at the post office and mother is a  housewife.

MD: When did you first realize the artist in you? 

TV: I realized my inclination towards art while studying at my village’s government school. After that I came to Hyderabad for BFA at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University’s College of Fine Art (where he earned a gold medal). For MFA I went to The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. In 2006 after completing printmaking I continued staying and working  there.

MD: Who has been your biggest creative influence? 

TV: The works and life of artist Bhupen Khakhar was an early influence. I was drawn by the simplicity and honesty in his paintings. Especially the way he approached issues of gender, identity and sexuality.

MD: You are a fine artist who indulges in embroidery to enhance your work. 

TV: Yes. I like to explore the possibility of different mediums to express myself. The collaborative nature of embroidery and fine art has expanded my creative possibilities.

MD: Among the current legendary artists whose works do you appreciate? And why?

TV: The works of the great Japanese master Hokusai still feels current and relevant and I am a big fan of his woodblock prints. The young Chinese artist Sun Xun is also pushing the envelope with woodcut animations.

MD: Is there something personal or social that you are trying to achieve though art? 

TV: I am concerned about the conflict between nature and culture-all this mindless war and violence, its impact on our fragile environment and the role that sexual imagination plays in our lives. And so am simply expressing what I see and feel in my immediate environment.

MD: What keeps you creatively productive?

 TV: I always carry my Rotring pen and a paper pad as I get an urge to draw anytime, anywhere.

d23fa15b-0136-4c2a-b123-b878d4ccb3aaShadow, 2018
Pencil and hand embroidery on fabric
55.5 x 49 inches (141 x 124 cm)_MAK7314Red Rabbit, 2018
Pencil and hand embroidery on fabric
52 x 57 inches (132 x 145 cm)

View his Instagram handle  

And if you want to buy his works write to

Gallery Maskara on info@gallerymaskara.com

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