Augustine Thilak and Victoria’s paintings and installations explore questions about life, death and spirituality

Art is but a language of colours and emotions. In Augustine Thilak and Victoria’s exhibition of works at Lalit Kala Akademi, fittingly titled ‘The Language of Existence’, existence is measured through many means; spiritual and social.

Augustine’s works are mostly pastel on board. He spreads earthen colours across the board with his fingers, because he says “If I can touch and feel my art, I can connect better.” His subjects are lined silhouettes and these lines betray their emotions. There are confused curls and lines straight with clarity, all depicting different dealings of the human mind. Inner Space is a contemplative man, who is looking for some clarity. A Portrait of Choice is about a man trying to make an informed decision. Three things are placed before him. They too are abstract, as the choices don’t matter. Only the decision does.

Blooming Man is about one who is enlightened. There is a lotus over his head, brightly shown. This theme keeps resurfacing throughout Augustine’s art because, as he says, his art is all about moving inside. Augustine teaches art and yoga as therapy. “You have to move inside to reach out to others outside. Otherwise, it will be rather superficial,” he smiles. “My works are an invitation to people to be connected. I’m inviting people to know the language of existence.”

Ironically, the next work of his is titled 'The Ever Continuous Existence'. It shows a figure on the ground and the world moving on. Perhaps to denote that no matter what, life goes on. Augustine’s installations are also about men finding answers, finding keys to locks. In Search of the Key is about five figures looking for a key, not realising that they are actually sitting on it. Just Loosen the Screw is a large screw made of screws. The key to moving within is letting go.

While Augustine paints on spirituality, his wife, Victoria’s art is all about finding yourself in the chaos that is this generation. Combo for two has two starters, two main courses and two desserts (apart from two shot glasses stained a cough-syrupy red). But the plates only have medicines. “Is this where we’re heading, with our lifestyle?” asks Victoria.

Her mixed media works use a variety of materials like jute bags and muslin cloth. Unstoring and storing are two pieces that depict two issues. One talks of birth and the other about our life cycle. In the process, one must learn to store the necessary things (like life) and unstore the rest. In Search of the Connection has a young woman looking at a clutter of objects she uses everyday; laptops, computers, facebook and yet, everyone is still searching. Victoria’s colours are brighter and bolder, when compared to Augustine’s predominantly rustic art.

The installations are interesting as well. There are four helmets hanging at different heights. Three are yellow, one is a weary gray that is going white. One more helmet is on the ground, broken into pieces. “This is life. Some people earn more, some work more, some work less, some are rich and others are not. Some are at a better stage in life while others toil. And when you toil too much, you find yourself on the ground, broken beaten. It’s also about life and death, about accidents,” says Victoria.

The Wait, is graphic and very telling. Paper cups are stacked on a stool. Some are on top of each other, others just on the side. Each cup has a face, coloured in purple, green, blue, red and yellow. Most of them have a shadow across their features. They are all looking up, their mouths betraying a sense of waiting and wanting. A large filter hangs over their heads. “These people are waiting for what is meant for them. But as it passes through the filter, how much really trickles down to them?” the artist points out.

The Language of Existence is on display at Lalit Kala Akademi, 4, Greams Road, Egmore till October 20 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.