‘Hail’, a powerful show of works by 40 artists, on at MNF museum in Edapally, touches upon every aspect of the human experience

The concept note which introduces ‘Hail’, an art show on at MNF, likens the process of creating art to how hail stones are made. It reads like a page out of a science textbook, but it is the curator’s take on the artistic process. Creating art is a complex process, much like complex natural phenomenon such as hail, we are told.

The show, put together by artist Madhu V., is a robust mix of media and varied artistic expressions. There are paintings, sculptures, photographs, video installations and embroidery too. The two floors of the MNF museum are decked up as a must experience visual extravaganza.

It’s the day after the inauguration; there are school children in the museum. Shepherded in by their teachers, they have awe written all over their faces as they take in the paintings, which is more or less the reaction the show would elicit in most people. History, philosophy, politics (personal and socio-cultural), quirk…every aspect of the human experience has been touched upon.

Multifarious expressions

A 78” by 180” painting by Josh P.S., ‘Kalinga’, welcomes the visitor. It is the ‘real Kalinga’ as it is today, Madhu informs. This is the place where emperor Ashoka gave up arms but it, today, looks like one of those places we see as we shuttle across in a train. Aishwariya Sultania’s ‘Rashiyon Ki Rani’, mix media on acrylic, is a quirky take on how zodiac signs (‘rashi’) dominate almost every aspect of our lives. The 12 ‘works’ speak of an attempt to be the master or mistress of one’s destiny. Madhu’s work ‘Secret Practise VI and VII’ are two works inspired by the spiritual, inward quest of human beings. The piercing eyes on ‘Face I and Face 2’ by Priti Vadakath, a watercolour painting, on 640 gsm arches paper(fine white watercolour paper), seem to follow one around the gallery. Other artists whose works at the ground floor gallery are ‘Quilt’ by Sanam CN, ‘Portrait of Kardam’ (a print on archival paper) by Sathyanand Mohan, a fibre cast, wood and acrylic sculpture ‘Vidheyan’ by Reghunathan and another in grey granite by V.K. Rajan.

Video installations

There are quite a few video installations at ‘Hail’. Some extremely political, and continues to resonate, such as those by Gigi Scaria’s video installation ‘Political Realism’, Veer Munshi’s ‘Shrapnel’, Archana Hande’s film synopsis ‘Of Panorama’, a water colour based animation was a delightful way of telling the scary ‘paradise lost’ story. The other video installations are by Atul Bhalla, Monali Meher and Radha Gomathy. Monal Meher’s ‘Ice Block Eyes’ induced a sense of “What is this?”

An installation by Jos Martin, ‘Infinite’, is definitely eyeball grabbing as far as installations go. A coffin with buns (yes those semi-globules that we eat) surrounding it, half full of sugar with the bark of a tree with a crow’s wing on it. Death is not the end anymore in the current climate of consumerism.

‘Housing Dreams’ by Vivek Vilasini screams for attention, in a good way. There are 30 archival prints or ‘photos’. Houses painted in screaming and shocking colours such as fuchsias, pinks, turquoise blue, parrot green, candy pink and peach…these houses are realisation of dreams! A work sans intellectual pretentions, one can make what one wants of it. Ponder or wonder? You choose.

Gayatri Gamuz’s ‘Elements’, an oil on canvas painting and Sabin Valsan’s two works, a combination of portrait and landscape execute by Staedtler pencil on tea washed paper, are two works that stand out. Then there is Rathi Devi’s acrylic on canvas with prints on archival prints of bare-breasted women. It gives a new spin to Rathi Devi’s series on the veil. Radha Gomaty’s installation based on her experience of floating down the Ganges called ‘The Drift’ is interesting. The photographs accompanying arousea sense of curiosity about the experience.

Ranjith Raman’s needle work, hand embroidery, on canvas opens the door to another, hitherto little medium of artistic expression and with such felicity. The work shows two fingers walking…as Ranjith’s fingers would have executed the ‘painting’ with thread needle, some mirrors and sequins. Abul Kalam Azad’s paintings ‘Vilakkugalum Kulachinnangalum’ question various dogmas and are thought provoking - about how certain animals are more holy than others…a work which is food for thought.

Leon KL, Binu Bhaskar, Birendrapani, Krishan Murari, Mohammed K.K., Priti Kahar, Aji Kumar, Bhuvanesh Gowda, Sujith S.N., Murali Cheeroth, Balaji Ponna, Sumed Rajendran and Sebastian Varghese are the other artists whose works are on show. Madhu V. has put together a show which will elicit a response and it is not the tame, gaze and move on variety.

The sheer variety of media and the presence of artists from across India makes the show a must see. ‘Hail’, presented by Traya and Celebrate Keralam Happiness Festival 2013, runs through February.