Three shows in Fort Kochi take you through a gamut of pictorially difficult and easy terrain
One wonders if there is a season for art, because the city does see a particularly dry run of art shows in the middle of the year. But at the year ending, energy, and surprisingly not fatigue, seems to perk up the galleries and they once again open up with a feast for the eyes and this time a lot for the mind too.
At the imposing David Hall, Fort Kochi a group of five artists have put up a show titled Domain-O. The participating artists are Premji.T.P, Santhosh Lal P.M., K. Sudheesh, Bahuleyan C.B, and Narayanan Kutty. Together they paint a mood that is serious. The gravity arises from the strong telling comments made by the artist on the present scenario in which man has paradoxically placed himself: Whether his advancements in technology and lifestyle have ameliorated his condition or exacerbated it.
Premji's canvases titled Animal Farm, satirises, much like Orwell's novel, our plight. Cleverly done in a single hue, shades of brown, he is able to make his point strongly by choice of colour.
His other works Lust, Flesh and Terror and Whisperings (watercolours on paper) add to common narrative drawing from natural imagery.
The visual impact comes forcefully in the empirical detailing of the big, 6x6 ft ,canvases of Narayankutty K and Bahuleyan. Once they have caught the attention, which comes easily, the onlooker is transported to a difficult, harsh world despoiled by man's thoughtless ways. In Narayanan Kutty's ‘Notes from Ground' series and Bahuleyan's ‘Transformation', a striking similarity of mood is evident immediately. The artists seem to contrast two worlds that co-exist, one the snazzy urban landscape and the other of war detritus that lie rotting, masked by foliage. Death versus life can be one inference.
Santhosh Lal's Golden Game, a series of works confounds with its complex interpretations. Sudheesh K, an artist from Kozhikode too contributes to the matrix of cerebral interpretation that takes a critical view on lifestyle; using titbits of Kerala images. The show is particularly impressive for the skill and content of the works.
If Domain-O stokes the mind, then Zakkir Hussain's Return of The Unholy, at Kashi Art Gallery, is “aesthetically confrontational” as the artist tells you. Hussain has always been an acerbic commentator of contemporary, topical events. The two toned serigraphy prints in teal and black makes a striking contrast.
The images of suicide and related gory deeds are scathing and have a hard impact. But then, “life is tough,” says Zakkir. But interestingly he softens his stance by adding birds and trees. “That's the poetic aspect, away from bare realities,” explains Zakkir who is from Chandriroor and has chosen to stay in his State to pursue his artistic journey.
Prints, he says, are far reaching (easier buyouts) as against limited edition pieces and as he wishes to disseminate his thoughts, he has the printed version on show. There are eight small works that are the “study” to the subject. The study provides interesting insight into the artist's on-the-boil mind.
Easy on the mind
Away from the gravitas of these two shows, Asanthan's paintings at Eka Art Gallery at Kunnumpuram, are easy on the mind and pleasing in imagery. There are birds, trees and tales drawn from mythology, Kerala literature and even old wives' tales that the artist has grown up with. Asanthan takes great pride in narrating visually these timeless stories. He delights in the crow pheasant as it flies over the paddy field or the ‘ vannatikili'- the black and white bird. Famous poets and their works, the story of Mathangi, the konna tree…all make for colourful images. Fish fowl, flowers find gay expression on canvases that are big, 4x4 and a few small ones too. He has put up 28 pieces on show. Asanthan's show is on till December 20.
A round up of the three shows leaves one both, as they say, shaken and stirred. Just as the pictorial realities of Domain –O and Return Of The Unholy, hit you both visually and metaphorically and the mood gets sombre, the red hibiscus, the folk dancers and the birds in Asanthan's canvases lift your spirits once again and you walk out into bright lanes beginning to swarm with travellers. Art has a strange way of affecting you so deeply, from happy to sad or vice versa.