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Artist Profile2
A peep into K Laxma Goud’s oeuvre
K Laxma Goud's illustrious career that spans close to five decades has been marked with an all-encompassing diversity, tremendous versatility, and high degree of craftsmanship both in medium and style. The multi-faceted artist has worked effusively and effortlessly in a wide array of mediums, such as painting, etching, pastels, gouache, sculpture (bronze, terracotta etc) and glass painting. He is known for his graceful, albeit highly powerful line drawings, watercolor works and etchings.

What has made the prolific artist stand apart from his contemporaries is his writhing, bleeding line he developed as his inimitable idiom of choice. As he fleshes out the myriad possibilities of sketching, he seamlessly connects the core rustic and raw virtues of his practice to his protagonists in both their dominating physicality and fragile psyche. He thereby manages to strike a rather intimate relationship with his deft creations. His phallic-centered universe, as one would notice, has constantly stretched and broadened, over time.

A recurrent theme with Laxma Goud is that of the erotic - projected as a powerful element of male and female sexuality. According to the artist, 'there’s eroticism hidden in nature itself. Humor, vitality and earthiness emerge as he transforms the characters of his work – a man into goat, and a goat into woman. His simple imagery conveys an idyllic reality, slowly getting obliterated by rampant urbanization.

The artist’s raw and vivacious portrayal of men and women exude the rustic, albeit fascinating Indian ethos rather than stressing upon any specific individual identity. They are imbibed with energy, which reverberates through his strokes and teeming textures. Apart from his exemplary narrative ability, Laxma Goud's skill and sophistication in dealing with pencil or paintbrush are simply remarkable. An eye for meticulous detail and precise incisiveness marked by hatched lines has been his forte. Gradually, the figures have turned softer, seemingly more introspective.

Born in Nizampur, Andra Pradesh in 1940, he did his diploma in drawing & painting from the Government College of Art & Architecture, Hyderabad (1963). The talented artist then studied mural painting and printmaking (1963-65) at M.S. University, Baroda. Among his select solo exhibitions are ‘Laxma Goud 40 years: A Retrospective’ at Aicon Gallery, New York (2007); Sculptures - bronze and terracotta, Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai (2006); Aicon Gallery, New York (2003); and Grey Art Gallery, New York (2001-02). His significant group shows and participations are ‘ From the Vault’, Aicon Gallery (2007); Back to the Future, Gallery Espace, New Delhi (2006); ‘Indian Art Tomorrow’, Philips Collection, Washington D.C. (1986); and São Paulo Biennale, Brazil (1977) among others. Notably, he was among the most represented artists in the prestigious Chester & Davida Herwitz Family Collection.

Laxma Goud's evolution as an artist has indeed been fascinating as his art itself, marked by distinct phases. By the mid 1960s, he had developed his own style displaying finely chiseled, albeit pliant lines plus delicate washes of color that depicted man's interaction with nature. This was when he also engaged with the theme of erotic. The artist’s stark etchings essentially investigated impulses and aggressive passions embedded within sexuality - male and female - as well as pan-natural contexts. Here hierarchies were totally blurred as man turned beast and trees carried vaginal openings– the surreal and the libidinal treaded alongside the poetic and fantastical. Notably, the artist worked with a greater frequency in aquatint by the late 70s.

This subtler medium sought gentle stylizations and distortions – the razor-sharp accessories of his figures, or their weathered, worn-out faces that ironically, resembled their more realistic, closer-to-life selves. The representations deftly tapped into their complex psychological makeup. The dramatic gesturing and harsh expressionism were effectively quelled; amidst the softer, gentler shadows, leaving a greater scope for contemplation. What ultimately evolved was a dynamic and throbbing Indian ethos that exuded but was not restricted to the sexual undertones alone. The fine, linear details and palpable textures remained though, omnipresent!

K Laxma Goud’s life and art is marked by a strong belief in his core values. He has gone against the long-held presumption that an artist can only succeed market by producing large-format painting. He has staunchly stood by the sketch-line that connects the crude physicality of his characters to their more delicately and subtly exposed psyches. His works of the late 80s period are more geometric and playful in nature. Their contours are fuller and his line persists - more resolved and more mature.

His practice is largely centered on the rural environment recreating landscapes from his formative years as if perpetually frozen in time and memory. His more recent lush landscapes done in vivid colors reminiscent of his jovial youth spent in lusty rural settings of his home state. Like most of his work, these are executed in miniature format in order to let the viewer engage directly with his work. The innocence, simplicity, bright color, fascinating flora and fauna suggest the bucolic naivety.

In essence, K Laxma Goud remains one of India’s finest, most accomplished and versatile artists.