I am a fan of Bapu. I like his drawings. They are to me as much a part of Telugu landscape as Godavari.
As an artist, he is hardly a path breaker. He is not particularly original in style; however, he is very original in adaptation. Imagine: few centuries ago, Chilli was not a part of Indian Cuisine. Now, Guntur is the chilli capital of the world. So, that is no slight.
One can see his artistic lineage in Art Nouveau, in particular, Alfonse Mucha. For example, almost all the pictures in #gaalib geetaalu# could have come from Mucha, albeit in color and a little more lines.
In producing some idyllic Teluguness, perhaps is Norman Rockwell of Telugu land. The characters are stereo typical, not necessarily appealing to the “angst” crowd, but silently influential.
As Bapu evolved, he economized on the lines, just a cartoonist would. It is a curious intermarriage of cartoonism and Art Nouveau, which was not done before. One can see that in his gods and goddesses pictures.
As always all art is a constructed reality. As such, the value is so much innate. With that caveat, if I were to exhibit his work in Soho, I can imagine natives being not so much impressed.
What happened though, the “serious art” never really did develop in AP, just like “Serious cinema” never did. Yeah, yeah, I did watch #rangula kala#. And, to paraphrase from some other thread, when the mantle passed on Viswanth and Bapu — they were capable people, but mostly producing “higher-order kitsch” movies. So, no use pretending them to be serious art that challenges our sensibilities dragging us into new realities, revealing new things about life, universe, and ourselves. What they do us though, is a comfort us with the familiar on a Saturday evening.
I am an intellectual snob, but I am not afraid to say I like Bapu’s pictures. It is curiously, one of the curses of being born Telugu, that I do not mind so much.
If you recognized other influences on Bapu, I would be interested in listening.