Artist Profile
Profile of C. Douglas
 

C. Douglas, hailing from a coastal town far south, started as a painter at the age of twenty. That was his age in 1970 when he travelled to Madras to enroll himself at the Government College of Arts and Crafts, the premier art institution in South India. At that time he had completed school, been to college, read extensively and had even briefly apprenticed under the highly respected art master in his hometown. He seemed meek and was painfully touchy. A career in art was thought of for him because there was nothing else he would put his mind on. That it should be at Madras was decided in the hope that good instruction and the company of artists would help him open up and make something of his temperament and abilities.

Happily for him, when he joined, the College of Art was an exciting place, full of interesting personalities. The painters and sculptors there had been involved in an important art movement, and some of them were doing their career`s best work at that time. K.C.S. Paniker who had led the movement had just retired and moved to Cholamandal, the artist`s village had founded. He was very much they`re when Douglas also moved in there at the end of his days in college. The making of Douglas as the painter he is today has much to do with what he had received and continues to receive from the group he had been initiated into at these two places. But Douglas bided his time, reflected quietly on his own and waited for an exemplar. It was eventually to be Ramanujam, the demented draughtsman and painter, a former student at the college of art, whom Douglas kept seeing on and off at that place and later at Cholamandal.

Ramanujam was a highly eccentric and uncommunicative painter; even his most ardent admirer would be hard put to get to know anything of the working of his mind. But to Douglas he was that rare spirit who could picture the semi-sane, queerly formed state of being. Douglas`s earliest exhibited work, done while he was still a student, showed how closely he had studied Ramanujam`s workmanship. The way Ramanujam could flight his line, curdle it and pattern with it had made for a severely graphic style that carried Ramanujam`s genius. This was what Douglas was trying to get a hold on. The style was a highly personal one, not unrelated however, to the expressionistic linearity that the artists at the college had evolved as a group. What was a disturbingly unspecific subject which in some instances seemed quite awesome. That started to be Douglas` apprehension too as he progressed with his own work in their midst.

His metaphor for it in his work of that period was the foetus, the pre-natal condition in which there is neither separation nor participation of any kind. His ability to flight the line and to figure figure freely with it was at play in the fragile personal myth he tried to hazard in the drawings of that period.

His shifting to Cholamandal confirmed him in his career as full time painter. It afforded him a place to stay, a companionship of others like him, the needed time for painting and together with them all, earning enough for minimum upkeep.

Douglas joined his fellow students there and some seniors who had moved in earlier, and carried on painting without being disturbed by any feelings of discontinuity or dislocation. He was twenty seven years of age when he became a professional like other notables in the trade and in free association with them. The time and situation were entirely right for equipping himself for the hardy professional work ahead in his career as a painter.

He now stared to `paint` his pictures, instead of drawing and colouring them as he was doing so far. He proceeded to capture with brushwork and colour values, what he knew how to gather delicately with his flighted line and tints.



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Past Exhibitions (1)
C.  Douglas