Contemplate brings together emerging artists in the country

A sketched expanse of brown sea shore draws you in first at the Young Contemporaries II exhibition by Contemplate Art Gallery. Against the extensive landscape, belittled men hail an anticipated redeemer. He arrives, however, only to be later captured. Drawn with brown pencils on tea-washed paper five feet high and seven feet wide, The Arrest of the Redeemer is one of Keralite artist, Umesh P.K.’s three works on display. The redeemer, like the lover, the seeker and the adventurer, is an archetype — images in our collective unconscious. “I use these images often, but infuse the traditional in them,” says Umesh.

Young Contemporaries II showcases 14 other artists trained in the visual arts, displaying 32 pieces in all. “We want to encourage young, emerging creators who are both exceptionally skilled and conceptually strong. So we’ve brought together works from major centres such as Delhi and Andhra as well as smaller places such as Tripura and Assam,” says in-house curator Niveditha K. “The first few years, just out of art school, are when artists need the most support, monetarily and otherwise, because many live off solely their work,” she adds. So the exhibition also encourages Coimbatoreans to invest in upcoming contemporary art. Price tags range from Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 2 lakh.

Thematically, Young Contemporaries II explores everything from the metaphysical to the literal. For Coimbatorean Jitha Karthikeyan, art is about narrating stories of migrant labourers. Her oil on canvas Involuntary Exile features six men from varied cultural backgrounds entering a new city with their hopes and belongings bundled in a gunny bag. “It’s in the unreserved train compartments, not the airports and malls, that I see real India,” she says. Construction workers pour out in carriage-loads to build cities that won’t host them and Jitha hopes her unsmiling men with piercing stares will cause city-dwellers to rethink that equation. The notion of contested public spaces occurs again in Sumanto Chowdhury’s works Inside and Outside and My colony II.

Figurative drawings that ideate the abstract are how Bangalorean Mohan Kumar expresses himself. For him, art tells a deeply personal story as in his piece Why Am I Doing this Interview? Is This What I Had Always Dreamed For? It is based on a real-life incident. His works use the recurring motif of clowns. “What we really are is not what we portray and clowns depict that best,” he says. As an artist he began in black-and-whites, evolved to mono-chromes and his current works on display are created with charcoal and colour pencils, the grey mingling with dull pink and green.

Young Contemporaries II is also experimental in terms of the media used. Among the many works in acrylic, oil or charcoal are Coimbatorean architect Ashik Jaffer Ali’s Typology Series I, a landscape created with painted pencil sticks, and Vertical Typology, plywood painted over with acrylics and nuts (from bolts) pasted on. “I’ve always used art as a tool to understand architecture. So when I wanted to create a landscape of Coimbatore, its industrial nature was prominent for me and nuts were an accessible way to show that,” she says.

Besides paintings, sculptures are also on display. M. Moshahary’s Pain features a log of wood partially splintered by an axe, sculpted from fibreglass, bamboo and acrylic. Pradeep Kumar A.’s A Rainy Cloud, depicts a red house weighed down by an ominous cloud, many times its size.

Young Contemporaries II brings together varied artists exploring myriad themes through different media. The exhibition is on till August 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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