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Galleries -> 'In the Fore' 2007
C F John - Four Corners of A Line IV (2006). Acrylic on canvas 'IN THE FORE 2007'
17th January 2007 - 14th April 2007
The Noble Sage Art Gallery
2A Fortis Green
London N2 9EL (near East Finchley Tube)
Wed-Fri 9am - 6.30pm, W/e 10am - 5pm
T: 0208 883 7303

The Noble Sage, the first gallery in the UK to specialise in Indian contemporary art, opens its new exhibition 'In The Fore', that runs from 17 January until 14 April 2007, highlighting four leading lights in South India's thriving art scene: A P Santhanaraj, Alphonso Doss, C F John and Rekha Rao.


'Portrait of A Woman' by A P SanthanarajThe main focus will be the stunning work of 74 year-old semi-figurative painter, A.P. Santhanaraj. A former principal of the Madras College of Arts & Crafts, Professor Santhanaraj is considered by many in South India to be the most influential artist of the second wave that followed K.C.S. Panniker and S. Dhanapal from the Madras School. Santhanaraj forged an exceptional artistic style dedicated to discovering the complexities of his canvas through abstract engagement with figurative subjects.

Crucial to Santhanaraj is his love of spontaneous line. This inspires his tempered colour and also certain characters to emerge - particularly his buxom female heroine. She appears from his subconscious through his jagged lines and the spatial areas displaced along the way. Interestingly, the shapes and lines combined with the fragmented colour create a flatness similar to an Indian wall painting where the irregular rock face has an effect on the painting upon it. Though he has moved far from the art of his ancestors, he has created imagery fascinatingly akin to the idyllic world depicted by Indian artists thousands of years ago.


Alphonso Doss is referred to by many of his artist friends as 'The Reverend Doss'. This is because of his general spirituality and great interest in world religions, their overlapping themes and motifs. His canvases show vibrant images of Shiva Nataraja (the classical Hindu depiction of the Lord of the Dance), the Buddha seated in meditation and Christ healing the sick. Doss sees his art as an extension of a long history of religious painting. His influences are Grunewald and Rubens as much as the anonymous sculptors of the ancient temples in Tamil Nadu. Doss brings a new personality and eastern vision to old religious subjects through his highly distinctive style of painting and private symbolism.


Rekha Rao is a painter burning a bright path in Bangalore. Daughter of celebrated artist K.K. Hebbar, Rao displays exuberant colour and inventive, semi-narrative mark-making in her paintings. Descriptive and sparingly dispersed brushstrokes subtly outline and draw in the colour into the categories of meaning and symbolism for the viewer whilst also disappearing to allow enjoyment of the very pigment itself on the canvas. Her canvases combine a sense of fun and tongue-in-cheek humour which, in turn, creates a distinctive enjoyment for the viewer.


CF John's interests have moved relatively recently to the field of canvas painting. Today he aims to capture the grey area between that that you can see is believably real for a human form, that that is actually possible of a body under force and, lastly, that that is possible of a human subject when his or her three-dimensional action is transformed into a two-dimensional image. For the series, 'Four Corners of a Line' (2006), John worked with an American performance artist, suspending her from his balcony roof by trapeze-like constructions. The results are astonishing - moments of unusual physical calm and motion arrested on the canvas.

Jana Manuelpillai, Director of The Noble Sage: "This exhibition is rather special. The variety of styles and content create a veritable feast for the eye! The four painters are deft masters of their art and this is visible as soon as you enter the gallery. To put it succinctly, they are 'in the fore' and you can see why."


Jana Manuelpillai is the man behind The Noble Sage Art Gallery. A British-born Sri Lankan with Indian lineage, he leads a new breed of home-grown talent forging fresh and exciting links with the subcontinent. Jana (28yrs) has a wealth of experience behind him.

His interest in art at a young age led him to a degree in Art History and English Literature from Birmingham University. This was followed by a First Class Masters degree in Museum Studies at Leicester University, thus cementing his career in art museums and galleries. His career has spanned from Dulwich Picture Gallery and South London Gallery, to The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in the USA. Most recently, Jana worked as Head of Education at the Mall Galleries off Trafalgar Square.



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