Gurram Mallaiah

Gurram Mallaiah was a painter of immense talent and a gifted son of Gurram Virayya and Nagalaxmamma of Chandur, Nalgonda. He belongs to the Bengal revivalist tradition that influenced several painters all over India due to its swadeshi/nationalist agenda. His paintings can be seen as a bridge between revivalist language and modernist approach particularly in this region. Like many other contemporaries, Gurram Mallaiah also chose his subject matter based on Indian mythology. His beautiful depiction of ‘Urvashi’, painted in 1932, show an excellent lyrical quality and the mastery of the revivalist technique. The idealised form of flying Urvashi is reminiscent of the depictions at Ajanta, where he used easy posture, subtle delineation and less ornamentation. The frontality of the tilted head and graceful physiognomy suggest his inclination to the conventional ideas of depicting beauty. Another painting titled ‘Greeshma sayamkalamu’ (summer evening) can be seen as transition from his earlier language. This particular painting reminds us of Deccani Ragamala painting style painted in Golconda. While painting ‘Shakuntala’, Mallaiah seems to be somewhat eclectic, imbibing both visual languages of Bengal and Madras thus paving ways to a new idiom. A clear shift can be noticed in the landscape from oriental sky to miniaturesque approach and later introducing a naturalistic picturesque background.

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