Bus art of Tamil Nadu is imaginative and vibrant, says photographer Vijay Jodha

 Bus art of Tamil Nadu is imaginative and vibrant, says photographer Vijay Jodha

A collage of bus art pics clicked by self-taught photographer Vijay S Jodha

Rajkumari Sharma Tankha

In his latest show, Colours Unlimited: The Bus Art of Tamil Nadu, Gurugram-based writer-filmmaker-photographer Vjay S Jodha celebrates the bus art of Tamil Nadu. The show, albeit an online one, was thrown open to public on November 1, which marked the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state.

The photographs, clicked by Jodha, present interesting aspects of life in Tamil Nadu. “Our country has a rich culture of art, we live with art in our daily life – this is unlike in West and Europe where art is restricted to galleries and connoisseurs, “ opines Jodha, adding that each state has its own special kind of art that is very well adopted by the common people in their day-to-day life.

“In Punjab we see colourfully decorated trucks, in Prayagraj you have colourful, decorated cycle rickshaws while in Hyderabad a similar art is seen on autos,” he adds. “And this is not a new phenomenon; the beautiful carving on the centuries-old step-wells is a testimony to the fact that art was assimilated in our daily life,” he remarks. And he is not wrong. That art is for elites is a totally Western concept, for us Indians it is a way of life. What else explains the paintings on mud walls and floors of huts in far flung villages? The Madhubani dupatta or saree that you keep as a priced possession in your well-stacked almirah actually originated as a wall art done on freshly plastered mud walls and floors of huts by village women. There are scores of examples like this in villages and towns across the country.

“Indians have always had a strong tendency to have art in daily life. Art is ingrained in our sensibility and mindset; it is a part of our legacy. That impulse comes out in different forms of expressions, at different places in different mediums. The idea that art is only inside a gallery is misplaced, art is everywhere, especially in India”

Jodha who witnessed the bus art changing its shape and form during the over 20 years he spent in Chennai remarks that, in a way, these buses are like art galleries on wheels that go to the people rather than the other way round.

“There is a massive billboard culture in Tamil Nadu. Artists used to hand-paint these earlier, now of course these are digitally printed, but that doesn’t take away the fact that these are vibrant, colourful and imaginative art works,” he says.

Jodha has been clicking these buses since the time he first entered Tamil Nadu, but the ongoing exhibition has only 30 of his recent photographs (shot mostly in 2019) as “visitors lose interest if the works are more”.

The artist is happy with the response his online show is getting. “The first day itself had 150 visitors. Online exhibitions are a great way to showcase the work as there are no physical limitations. People from across the world can visit the shows. It is good even for artists as online shows are inexpensive as compared to physical shows,” he says.

“The digital printed has in a way spelt doom for the hoarding painters, but it is heartening to see that these artists are now involved in creating public art and murals. Like in Delhi, the Metro authorities have come up with some beautiful art works on some of the metro stations, and pillars,” says Jodha, who now plans to meet the artists behind the bus art for “getting their stories”.

The show is on view till November 14
Watch it here

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