75-year-old in Chennai belongs to first few groups of digital artists

T C A Gopalakrishnan

From wielding a brush to choosing the depth of it is among the range of tools available on design software – art has grown rapidly and tremendously.

Somewhere in the early 21st century, computers made their way to India and with them came the technique to digitise several physical documents.

While there are several artists who embraced the new form, News Today speaks to T C A Gopalakrishnan, a septuagenarian and autodidact, who belongs to the period when the art form underwent renaissance and also exhibited his digital art when it was still in the nascent stage.

Being in government service for a long time, Gopalakrishnan did not have a chance to learn formally under a tutor. However, he says, “I was always interested in art and I could always be spotted with a pencil and paper when I was young. Soon after completing graduation, I was posted in State government service which gave me very little chance to get formally trained,” says the 75-year-old artist while he unwraps one of his paintings.

By chance, when he was working, he came across Madras Arts Club, a society for artists in the city. “I decided to practice with fellow self-taught artists and I would rush from work to practise every Wednesday and Friday evenings,” adds Gopalakrishnan, a resident of Aadhi Nagar.

However, due to several reasons, the club was dissolved, but Gopalakrishnan went on to follow his heart. He began exhibiting his paintings at New Delhi Lalit Kala Akademi and Calcutta Academy of Fine Arts among others.

He hosted one-man shows of traditional arts in 1976, 1980 and 1996. He was also honoured among 64 other artists in 2013 during former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s 65th birthday.
Later, he began experimenting with digital arts.

“Computers were quite new in India back in early 21st century and in 2001, I shelled out Rs 1 lakh to own one and assemble it. I had never used one before that, even at the workplace,” recalls the artist who also occasionally writes jokes, makes terracotta products and indulges in photography.

“Now, we have digital art boards and pen to create with ease. Things were not easy back then. I practised art with the aid of mouse on Adobe PhotoShop 7.0,” he adds.

But why digital art when he loved and enjoyed pulling out a brush and spilling colours on his hands? “I do not have place to store my paintings,” he says, and adds, “I predominantly engage in creating abstract pieces and people do not prefer buying it and buying canvas board was also financially not viable.”

However, the artist opines that one has to practise traditional art before venturing into the contemporary form. “I see quite a lot of youngsters who straightaway do digital arts.”

He later went on to exhibit his digital creations in 2001, the same year he owned a computer and stated that he belongs to the first few groups of artists involved in learning and popularising the new format.

When asked if the modern form was overpowering the age-old method, “Change is inevitable and, we need to embrace it like how I did,” he says philosophically.

He can be reached at [email protected]

Bhavani Prabhakar