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Thota Vaikuntam

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1942, Boorugupali, Andhra Pradesh, India
Lives and works in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Thota Vaikuntam's art is majorlyinspired by the women of his native village. He attempts to depict their beauty and strong demeanour through his artwork. Fine strokes and vibrant colours are evident in his depictions. Apart from his charcoal drawings and colourful paintings, his work has also been greatly appreciated for the film set designs.



Diploma in Painting and Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India


Diploma in Painting, College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad, India

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Vaikuntam obtains inspiration from his native village

The artist states that the art education at the Hyderabad College of Art and Architecture left him frustrated and confused. Western art, in his opinion, was theoretical and structured, not as instinctive as Indian art. He tried to follow the European masters, as a result of which he didn't have a style of his own. This made him very disillusioned.

He had always been deeply intrigued by his village folks. Strong and calm, his mother was a big inspiration and he observed her scrutinously. He began painting her and things that surrounded her- her kitchen, pots and pans, the well, her clothes etc. This made him feel connected to his roots.

Thota Vaikuntam, Untitled, gouache on paper pasted on board, 17.5 x 13.5".

He has experimented with a wide variety of mediums

Vaikuntam started his journey in art with charcoal drawings. While he was still exploring techniques, he came out with his earliest charcoal series that portrayed the life of the village he grew up in. It had everything from scholars, farmers, and devadasis to utensils, pots, doors. His earlier works were symbolic of the ethos of rural India. As his art evolved, so did his range of mediums. Along with charcoal on paper, he experimented with pencil drawings, transparent washes and finished some drawings with partial coloration.

He later started painting with acrylics and oils as well and earned recognition for his colourful paintings. Besides his work as a painter, he laid his hands on film set designs. He was even awarded for his role as an Art Director for the film called 'Daasi'.

Thota Vaikuntam, Untitled,  charcoal on canvas, 11 x 8.5"

The use of primary colours and fine lines is significantly seen his artwork

"I like using rich primary colours, which give a sense of character and depth to my paintings. Like reds and saffron and even orange, because these are essentially Indian colours. I don't like using colours that are mix of two, because they are not natural, they don't exist in surroundings around us, in our everyday life".Vaikuntam explains that he prefers using bright primary colours as he believes that composite colours are artificial or unreal, they do not exist in nature. Vivid pigments and fine, controlled strokes gives his art a depth and a sense of strength to it. Motifs are a significant feature in his work. Small patterns are used to depict textiles and jewellery - capturing the soul of Telangana men and women and adding body to his simple portraits.

Thota Vaikuntam, Untitled, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 54".

Telangana Women - the central characters of his work

Telangana men and women are the fundamental characters of Vaikuntam's work. Women, in particular, inspire him. He describes the women of his village as earthy, strong and sensual. Their upright and powerful torsos and their attire are very different from city women; according to him, they are an art in themselves. They appeal to him so much so that he admits he can't stop himself from drawing these women. This obsession of his stems from his childhood, when he saw male artists who used to impersonate female characters in travelling theatre groups that performed in his village.

Enamoured by the sensuality and proud demeanor of these women he attempts to capture their reverberating charm in his work. To him they represent the strength that is inherent in most Indian women.

Thota Vaikuntam, Untitled, oil on canvas, 36 x 24”.