Stroll through the Sutra Gallery at the end of the month and you’ll find yourself face to face with the compelling work of painter, sculptor, visual artist and set designer Sivarajah Natarajan. In his latest exhibition, titled The Crowning Glory, Natarajan explores the elaborate head decorations worn by performers, while capturing the fluidity and dynamics of movement – a trademark he has mastered over the years.
The works are at once visually arresting, depicting actors and dancers’ mid-performance and in full head dress, transformed by the alter-egos that possess them when on stage. Natarajan’s subjects range from the Therukoothu and the Makyong to the Menora and those of Chinese opera, as well as the majestic crowns seen in Javanese dance theatres.
The donning of head gear has been of symbolic significance since prehistoric times, when masks, horns and hides were used by primitive men as decoration and preparation for the hunt ahead. This symbol of valour, identity and glory is present in tribal people across the world, and one which has been used in theatre to help elevate performers and convey messages.
Ancient Warrior (II)
Natarajan immortalises the magic seen on stage, transcribing it to the canvass in seamless fashion by focussing on form and function. His aim is to draw the viewer in and to recreate the theatrical myths presented on stage, and he very much succeeds in doing this as the images leave a lasting impression on the mind long after viewing them.
Semangat Menora (I)
As curator of both Sutra performances and exhibitions, Natarajan has been intimately involved in the visual and performing arts for over two decades. His passion and dedication to the scene are a hallmark of Sutra, an institution committed to furthering the Malaysian arts and fostering its creative spirit.
Sivarajah Natarajan among some of his scultpures
His contributions have won him numerous awards over the years and he continues to explore new imaginative ways in which to unite the artistic disciplines he lives and breathes, express his imagination and transfix his audience. The Crowning Glory is just the latest manifestation of this desire and certainly demands your attention.
On Vermilion Sky
The Crowning Glory
WHERE 12, Jalan Persiaran Titiwangsa 3 (Sutra Foundation)
WHEN 25 June-25 July
TIME10am-5pm (Mon-Fri), 10am-12pm (Sat)
TEL 03 4021 1092