Artist T. Venkanna — and Kukoo, a neighbourhood dog that has adopted the artist — welcomes us to his spacious home-studio in Hyderabad, where he has returned after many years in Baroda, Gujarat. A monumental in-progress painting takes up an entire wall, being finished for India Art Fair 2024, and beyond a small pantry, a printmaking press sits surrounded by dozens of artist’s proofs. Through the back balcony, a flight of stairs leads out to a terrace on which a mango tree grows sideways, draping its branches all along the side of the building. The artist spends many mornings and evenings sketching here.
Known for his works depicting graphic scenes of sexuality and eroticism, the artist says “people say [my work] is about sex, of course it is about sex…” but we cannot stop there. Sex is only the starting point for Venkanna, for whom art is a means of expressing pure feeling, at its limit, when it might become almost unbearable. The works often begin as drawings, and then get interpreted into boldly painted canvases and sometimes into etchings — the same composition in the artist’s world can exist in several material forms.
In a world full of violence, T. Venkanna builds an artistic universe that does not shy away from pain, nor from beauty. In this BMW Artist Film, he gives us a glimpse into his practice and process, fuelled by passion, purpose and sensitivity.
Venkanna was born in 1980 in Gajwel, Telangana. His works will be shown by Gallery Maskara at India Art Fair 2024.