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Love in the Time of Poetry

Artist Bakula Nayak’s ‘Sangam Unplugged’ is a series of paintings on vintage paper inspired by the poems of Sangam literature, a 2,500-year-old canon of poetry in Tamil on the themes of love and war. ‘Collecting vintage paper is a passion I have had for years. This series of illustrations is an attempt to give new life to these forgotten pieces of beauty. Sangam literature was a chance online discovery for me. I was especially taken with the love poems in Sangam literature that depicted the thoughts and feelings of individuals in love and their various concerns relating to their relationships. These poems were almost always set in nature and the landscapes described so beautifully. For a die-hard romantic like me who makes a nature-based drawing, this was the perfect combination. Art and love have always intermingled in my mind and I had no boundaries between my reality and my illusions as I read these poems. This series is not presented from an academic or expert point of view. This is my personal journey of Sangam poetry as an artist, mother, and lover. Each of the paintings are the beginnings of a thought, sparked by the poem I was reading that took on its own life and then collided with mine at some point’

: Bakula Nayak, Girlfriends, Mixed Media on Vintage Paper, 24″X30″

Bakula Nayak, Girlfriends, Mixed Media on Vintage Paper, 24″X30″


..The beautiful red water concocts new scents

by absorbing all the perfumes in its course

Mountain peaks that caress the clouds

that foam like curds churning into butter;

Little girls, with their friends,

mimic the older girls in love, frolicking in make-believe

The rushing Vaigai flows for well being:

to flourish fields and foster beauty in the land

Blooming flowers float in the flow

resembling the stage on a festival day,

where dancers swirl to the music

sounding from the eye of the drum

In the groves; flecked, striped bees

carry flowers, humming…as if playing flutes

Into the water, people cast gold figurines

of snails, crabs, and fish saying, Prosper! Grow!

From ‘The River Speaks’, translated by V.N.Muthukumar, Elizabeth Rani

arts illustrated

Other Stories by Arts Illustrated

Remembering The Earth

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Her Words, Her Weapon

A Handmaid’s Guide to Sanity

A Tale Of Two Kalis

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