Every time calligrapher Poosapati Parameshwar Raju wields his thick nib pen, he doesn’t just beautify alphabets but creates imageries. He directs his pen to slant left and right to narrate stories and put across messages. And his latest series, ‘The Nurtured Daughter’, currently on display at Alliance Francaise, features 13 artworks chronicling a girl child’s evolution from an infant clung to her mother’s breasts to an embodiment of power, beauty, wisdom and strength. “Each of these artworks have actually been picked from different series that I have done in the past and collated together. The idea was to present an overview of the journey of a woman, which is why I have not kept the drawings in any definite sequence,” explains Raju.
The artist says, the series is not an ode to feminism: “It has nothing to do with feminism. It’s a woman that binds a household together and this exhibition is more like a cue to an onlooker to realise that.”
Pointing to a piece which shows a mother nurturing her child, Raju says, “A man will think of his mother or any elderly woman in his household when he sees this work. But a woman will be reminded of her child when she sees it. I have tried to capture intimate moments which are otherwise difficult to portray through calligraphy.”
Known for his work on mythological subjects and characters such as Ramayana, Krishna Bhagavatam, Jyotirlingas and Ganesha etc., this is the first time Raju has dabbled with life, emotions and philosophy, as themes. Interestingly, all these artworks are in Devanagari script. When asked if it was by design, he explains, “I am from Vijayanagarm and hence, Hindi is not my mother tongue. I developed an affinity towards Devanagari during my college days in Aurangabad, thanks to my professors who were all well-versed with it,” says the artist, who confesses that he is not exactly proficient in Devanagari.
However, he believes not knowing the language actually helps you in calligraphy as it gives wings to your imagination. “Since Devanagari is not my language, I took the liberty to draw alphabets the way I could perceive them. My progressive outlook added a certain sparkle to my works. When you know a language, you start working on its grammar — you think about how a pen’s stroke should be — left, right, curvaceous and so on. But when you don’t know, you’re free,” he says, adding, “My style, actually bends more towards the Modi script (the script used to write the Marathi). It’s like cursive writing in English.”
An alumnus of Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, Raju believes red is the colour that helps maintain balance in any design — be it in calligraphy or advertising. And it comes as no surprise why he chose red to adorn his works. “While designing, whenever we draw something, we fill it with the colour red to know if it’s balanced — because red’s wavelength indicates whether it’s pleasant or hard on the eyes. If your design looks balanced in red, no matter what colour you use thereafter, it will remain so,” he says.