C.J.A. Doss

C.J.A. Doss Directors Statement

Anthony Doss is one of Chennai’s most established artists. Born in 1933, Doss started his artistic life as something of a child prodigy entering the Government School of Arts & Crafts at 13 years of age and then being promoted four times in two years into the Painting Department. There he studied under such leading lights as Ramgopal, Dhanapal and K.C.S. Paniker who no doubt imparted great artistic wisdom. His skill as a painter and draughtsman led him to later join the School as a teacher and, following this, to finally become its principal. Doss’s ability to breathe life into his painted figures is legendary – something now reminisced upon by many of the younger Chennai artists that studied under him. His subjects during his long, successful career have spanned religious art (Doss is an ardent painter of the agony of Christ), semi-abstract portraiture and, currently, romantic oil paintings of Kerala and Tamil Nadu women. His female characters are often erotically-charged, voluptuous women seen in profile or half-profile in natural landscapes or domestic interiors. It is not unusual for there to be a male character in the composition, a secondary figure adding a sexual dynamic to the composition. The women often gaze out at us with a distant faraway look. The artist concedes to being a ‘highly emotional person… deeply moved by the beauty of woman’. He is attracted to ‘the flow of lines of the female form’, believing that he ‘could live with them’ they are so alive under his brush. For him this is the ‘true test of creation’. Doss himself is a quietly-spoken gentleman, an artist content with the success that life has rightly awarded him as a painter and now equally happy to continue his days in the silent dedication of his time to the subjects of his oil paintings.

‘Flutist’ (1999) is arguably Doss’s greatest oil painting and The Noble Sage is fortunate to have been able to acquire it for the Gallery. It is an unusual work by the artist, one of two paintings from the period depicting male musicians, the other being a smaller oil painting of a singer with a tambura – an instrument for determining the musical key for a classical Indian piece. ‘Flutist’ has all the elements of a masterly work of art. One notes the painterly modelling of the musician’s headpiece, the exquisite pleats of his golden garb, the detail encapsulated in his dangling chain and the deft execution of the flutist’s elegant hands and face. It is no surprise that Doss is a great follower of the 17th century paintings of Rembrandt Van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens and Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio. One can perceive their influence in the chiaroscuro approach used to bring the enveloping darkness to life around the player. It adds a mystery and drama to the painting that brings, in turn, new depth and meaning to the eyes that gaze at us over the music. The oil painting is a treasure of a work, one that gives pleasure to the viewer every time one looks at it.

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