For Somashekhar Gudipallu of Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh morning shows the day. Armed with a mask, paintbrushes, and paint, the 25-year-old, leaves home at 7.30 AM for a 90-km journey to Kadiri village. As usual, his mother makes sure he carries a lunch box as it’s going to be a long day for the final year student of Fine Arts at the Yogi Vemana University.
With due permission from the police and local panchayat, Somashekar used to enter the villages which were strictly under lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic to paint a gorgeous picture of an old lady sporting a mask on the wall of the house. By evening, he returns home and starts again to prepare for another slice of street art in some other village. Yes, this has been Somashekar’s hectic schedule ever since the nationwide coronavirus-induced lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
As the schools and colleges shut, for the present, Somashekar has revolved around spreading awareness about coronavirus in his district through his theme-based artworks. So far, he has made 90 COVID-19 paints across 50 villages.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, Somashekar said not everyone has access to television, internet, or newspaper to have information about the rising pandemic. So, I thought painting speaks more than words and does wonders and it can also work as a reminder to create awareness among as many villagers as possible about social distancing and other preventive measures of COVID-19.
Apart from doing paintings, he pens useful and informative messages in vernacular language (Telugu), on the wall usage of handkerchief while coughing and sneezing and how to eradicate coronavirus pandemic. Somashekar theme base artworks indeed got a pragmatic response from people, “People time and again, approach me to inquire about the paintings while I am in the process. This way, I try to open up a conversation around safety protocols they should follow.”
For the time being, his parents, who are farm laborers, have also been supporting him in purchasing art paintings and meeting travel expenses. Somashekar’s talent was recognized by his teachers when he was in the second standard. On their motivation, he would take part in annual art festivals organized by the Rural Development Trust (RDT).
Also, some of his artwork on violence against women gained huge recognition and even a prize at the RDT festival. Since then, his work mostly revolves around present-day societal issues, the latest one being COVID-19. “Painting is an expression of my thoughts and ideas. It goes beyond all cultural, and social barriers, and everyone can relate to it,” Somashekar concludes.
Just have a look of Somashekar’s simple, innovative and informative theme-based art-works:
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