An alumnus of the Delhi College of Art, G.R. Iranna's earlier canvases, were executed with layers of rich paint that resembled earth textures. They were peopled by lone meditative figures that reflected local myths and his rural upbringing in Sindgi, Bijapur, in Karnataka.
Now, however Iranna's works mirror global concerns that go beyond the borders of his own nation. The human figure, the bruised textures of his canvas and the sharp edges of palette knife, all aspire to convey the pain and anguish of human angst beyond geographical boundaries.
Caught in the fray of violence and unrest, his Zen figures struggle for an inner calm. In recent works, he uses blindfolds on many of his protagonists as a symbolic gesture (... in 'A Wounded Song for my Country' the singers are blind); born from a need to shut out the madness of the world and concentrate on tranquility even while reflecting contemporary issues and concerns.
While the sensibility of this current work resembles Iranna's previous work, it is not politically loaded. "I was aware from the beginning that this is not a studio painting that I am making to explore my inner self, but something that will be viewed by the larger public. It was important that the work appeal to as many people as possible." He chose to work with themes that were secular and universal. "The Sufis of Haji Malang do not really see themselves as religious figures. Their music and their teachings are very open and can be enjoyed and accessed by anyone, no matter what religion they belong to. Similarly, the charkha had no religion. It was a symbol of self-sufficiency and freedom."
His basic sensibility remains the same in his works - "because I have a certain style and character that is my unique stamp." Still, Iranna likes to experiment. "I keep adding and subtracting elements ... I do feel that a work always has scope to grow and evolve. Often, when I revisit a work after a year or six months, I feel I want to change it ... I am never 100 % done."