Jeganathan Ramachandram or Jega as he is fondly referred to, wears so many hats in fulfilling his heart’s many desires, dabbling in the world of creativity and innovation that this premier Malaysian artist says he now knows not his specific designation.
This was how he concluded his short speech at the launching of his solo exhibition Earth Sound 9 at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. He had started out the speech by dedicating the exhibition – a culmination of his three decades as fulltime artist, poet, musician and sound analyst – to his sister R.M. Thilagam.
As his elder brother I for one know that my quiet unassuming sister Thilagam is a figure of great love and authority who with her strong support and subtle guidance helped shape the lives of Jega and her other siblings after our parents passed.
I also understand Jega’s confusion over his true designation and more so his simplicity and self-effacing ways and abject refusal to simply rest on the laurels of his already immense contributions to the Malaysian artistic scene.
Jega started his speech saying he was tired not having slept for two days preparing for the launch and believe me this is an understatement for I am constantly amazed by his punishing work schedule.
When working almost simultaneously on his painting, writing, videography, sound analysis and therapy and even dance productions – practically all year round – he is known to get on with just two hours of sleep a day.
Although his forte is as a painter who uses deft strokes to produce works ranging from miniatures to wall sized paintings filled with human, super human, sub-human, animal and surrealistic images – in bright earthy colours – he divides his time equally to pursue his other activities.
This major solo exhibition offers the perfect space for the 54-year-old Kuala Lumpur born artist to showcase his full repertoire of artistic and metaphysical musings in one sweep. I believe the exhibition conceptualised by Jega and managed by his curator, Jayshree Rama and assistant Maheswari Manickam together with National Art Gallery, has captured the essential Jeganathan Ramachandram.
Jega says, “I have designed the exhibition hall to symbolise the range of nine colours. Together with the reverberation of a sound composition – comprising low-pitch, mid-pitch and high-pitch sound patterns that give one an impression of nature – this whole space is transformed into a “pillar of energy” installation.
“This space is designed and constructed to reflect and emulate the energies flowing from form and vibration within a forest.”
A centre strap of green line on the floor divides the gallery into two. Symbolically this represents the Equator, the imaginary line which houses the oldest rainforest. Jega’s Forest Portal installation stands at the centre of the line.
Amidst a collection of Jega’s paintings ranging from realistic and abstract portraits to his mystical mirroring paintings that emanate positive vibrations and epic paintings like Dasavataram are arrangements of a total of 700 miniature mindscape paintings.
On this miniature canvasses the artist has jotted down in ink and in colour the spontaneous images, impressions, moods, feelings and idiosyncrasies that race across his mind’s eye giving art enthusiasts a chance to peek into an artist’s powers of observation and unique viewpoint on what our life is all about.
There are also a host of video presentations at the exhibition lovingly crafted by the artist himself that show visitors an instrospective view of themselves and human life on the whole. Jega’s invention, the sound healing chair is also there and visitors are invited to test it out.
The exhibition which opened on Oct 13 ends on Nov 8 so do not miss this chance of a lifetime to come face to face with the works of one of the country’s leading and most prolific artists.
Picture by M. Maheswari