A show by two artists hits out at the injustices in society

The angst of the working class best defines the art works titled ‘Shades of Darkness’ on show at Buddha Gallery, Greenix village, in Fort Kochi.

The artists, Baiju Neendoor and Prasadkumar K.S. who are jointly hosting the show are alumni of Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts, Mavelikara, and have more than a decade of experience as artists, exhibiting solo and group shows across the country. Both had recently exhibited in a collateral show during the Kochi Muzuris Biennale. Prasadkumar’s works are in mixed media. His paper collages are detailed, made adroitly from “magazine bits”. ‘Relics’ is a mosaic of paper cuttings that expounds the narrative of decadence. The artist uses text effectively in his works in oil. Though the language used is grammatically incorrect, devoid of élan of the speakers of fluent English it communicates directly. ‘What for should we recite the national anthem?’ asks Prasadkumar in text further voicing his torment by writing—‘Am I a dead man? Because I am incapable to react to injustice.’

The artist says that he looks at life from the eyes of the “lower class, the marginalised people”, and that such questions arise in the minds of the have-nots. Some of his other diatribes written along with images are ‘Emerging Kerala, Eternal Follies’, ‘Rascal Rules’, ‘Equal Justice-Joke’. The scathing texts convey the cumulative anger of the artist at the injustices that he witnesses in daily life. Some of the other subjects that the collages deal with are housing dreams of the poor, distortion of truth via history, shaping environment to suit the greed of man.

In a diptych (part of a series of three) Prasadkumar makes a wonderful comparison between a work by KCS Panicker, from the ‘Birds and Symbols’ series, and his current day image of a dog. “I am accepting Panicker’s interpretation and simultaneously rejecting some aspects of it,” says the artist who has explored art history too through his work. But if Prasadkumar has given some leeway to the other aspects of class divide, Baiju Neendoor has intensified his narrative with strikingly honest images. His story telling is direct and scathing. His canvas is large and dark. Black, brown, red, russet in broad, heavy strokes draw out the life changing situations that the poor face.

“Ï break the chocolate beauty,” he says adding that “nobody writes the history of the marginalised people. So we have to tell that in pictures.” Baiju too uses text to hit out, using strongly the four letter word to spit out his torment.

His smaller works are “scribbles” of the research that went into the large works about the chaos in the lives of the poor. These scribbles in black make interesting frames. The single gentle picture in the exhibition is of his friend, a mild face amidst the churning lives of the working class. The show is on till the end of September.