A Journey Through Doors

“I, Santhana Krishnan, a Chennai-based  artist  from  India.  I completed my bachelor’s degree at the College of Fine Arts, Kumbakonam, and my master’s at the College of Fine Arts, Chennai. My works revolve around the entrance of a home – “the Doors.” For the past 26 years, I have been painting on this theme. The concept of “Doors” is my way of preserving what is disappearing from today’s world and evoking memories for many. In this fast-moving world, the past and the echoes in the rooms inspire me to paint the first vital aspect of a house – The Door.

Some of my doors open into interiors with tulsi tharas in the inner court- yards, milk cans, kerosene lamps, wooden boxes, and clothes drying. Faint white numbers and letters on the doors provide clues about the inhabitants of those residences – corporation numbers, ward numbers, electricity board connection numbers, etc.

For instance, P26 indicates that polio drops were given to a child in the house under the government’s immunization program. Some of my closed doors with a huge lock show faded house numbers and painted advertisements. Through this, I aim to depict the lives of the people living behind these doors. Most of my doors are not from urbanized cities but from rural homes that I grew up watching every day.

Today, I paint more wooden, soot-covered doors with Kumkum and turmeric markings, as they fascinate me more than fancy-stained glass doors. I believe, “Each door has a tale to narrate of the house, its owners, and their lives. Even the exterior surface of the doors has myriad tales to narrate.”

Some of my works show the treatment of side walls adjacent to the doors, appropriating the space as a canvas for the representation of popular culture. By recreating the strong tactile feel of the old, weathered, or dirty plastered walls, and painting their surface with imagery derived from popular culture, such as film posters from the 70s or the ubiquitous images of Goddesses from Ravi Verma’s calendar art, I aim to bring back memories of those childhood days.

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