Looking way younger than his 34 years, Konda Srinivas Rao is the epitome of a self-taught artist. Hailing from Pedapudi in East Godavari district, he moved to Hyderabad in search of a livelihood. Working as a set assistant at Ramoji Film City initially, he did odd jobs and painted reproductions on order. Back in his village during his teen years, he worked as a daily wage person wherever he could find work. Unfortunately, one of those odd jobs – driving an auto – seem to be stuck to him and he doesn’t like that he is referred to as an auto driver turned artist. He says, “I drove one very briefly in my village when I was a teenager – I had to work for my family. The media only seems to pick on that and hypes it up while I did several other things too,” he says sitting in his tiny studio in Secunderabad.
He learnt art briefly in Hyderabad but just by looking at the works of various artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and M F Husain, he continued painting. He says, “I like the work of these artists… just by observing their art I learnt so much about painting and developing my own style.” While most of his current works are cityscapes, his personal preference is abstracts. “I like painting abstracts and after I studied a little art and the work of these masters I learnt the importance of expressing my deepest feelings and thoughts through my art.”
Using the impasto technique, his paintings range from abstracts to rural landscapes and city scapes. His current exhibition titled Auto, Chalte kya? – a typical Hyderabadi expression being held at the Daira Art Gallery showcases his impressions of Hyderabad. He says, “When I first came here, I used to be overwhelmed and scared seeing all the traffic and the crowds. I got used to it afterwards. This exhibition has captured some of those impressions.”
The works are mostly in dark colours, evening snapshots of a crowded city, the auto – empty in the few paintings it is present in – kind of merges into the city’s background. Familiar landmarks like the Punjagutta floyover full of traffic are part of his themes. What signifies his work is a criss cross of lines across the paintings at times almost merging with the street lights. These he says stand for the cable wires and the electric poles that are ubiquitous all over the city. What is usually an eyesore in reality takes on a certain dignity in his work and the lines almost serve as a division of the picture in some of the frames.
The exhibition is on till the 20th of February at the Daira Centre for Arts and Culture, 100 A, Banjara Petals, Road No. 5, Banjara Hill, Hyderabad 34.