K. Jayakumar's new collection of paintings, Memory Trap, which was unveiled in the city, displays the artist's felicity with colours

Memory Trap, a collection of 33 paintings, evokes a spectrum of emotions. The works tantalise, tease and pique a viewer's curiosity; some are introspective, some are provocative – triggering off a train of thoughts on subjects as varied as seasons, nostalgia, cities and liberty. Ranging from sombre combinations of colours and shapes to exuberant splashes of paints, the paintings seem to signify the artist's efforts to break free – from constraints, physical and metaphysical, artistic and stylistic.

And when the artist is K. Jayakumar, who happens to Additional Chief Secretary of Kerala, perhaps it is an attempt to break free of the red tape and exult in the freedom the canvas affords to express and create. Jayakumar has dipped his brush in his fount of imagination to come up with abstracts that testify to the artist's ability to turn his canvas into a medium for his visual outpourings.

“I have wanted to paint and usually it is in the late hours that I take up my brush and palette. Once I begin on a canvas, I prefer to work till it is almost done,” says Jayakumar who unveiled his new collection on the lawns of his house, Rose Mount, near Oolampara Junction. ‘Memory Trap' is his second collection of paintings that will travel to Delhi where it will be on display from November 4. “I am also planning to give a talk in Delhi on ‘When a poet paints,” says Jayakumar.

“The collection then goes to Kolkata and Mumbai, where I will be exhibiting my works for the first time. My paintings have been exhibited in Chennai and Hyderabad.” he adds.

Abstract expressions

Mostly abstract expressions of thought and creativity, the paintings certainly show the evolution of the artist who has already made a name for himself as an award-winning poet, lyricist and writer.

Evocative titles and use of colours play their part in enhancing the aesthetics of the works, both in oils and acrylics. The five series in the collection – River Sutra, Love Story, City of Joy, Pupa and Memory Trap – are like chapters in a book; each complete in itself but leading the viewers on to another level of experience. The collection begins with Pupa. Does it hint at the metamorphosis of the artist?

River Sutra, comprising four paintings, is an interesting amalgamation of the artist's felicity with words and paints. “I thought of the title first (River Sutra) and then came the haikus and then the paintings,” says Jayakumar. ‘Fireflies in the Bamboo thicket, fail to reflect in black rapids,' says everything about the first of the River Sutra series. A thicket of bamboo on a bank glows in the light of the fireflies while the river flows by, darkly. Another work in the series shows eddies in a river (‘Swirls in choiceless fate, swimming a sad fate), hinting at the omniscient finger that writes and moves on…. If River Sutra is a deeply philosophical work, ‘Birth of Fire,' in black and shades of reds, is “a representation of the erotic,” explains the artist.

The centre piece is a two-piece one titled ‘Satyan Savitri,' again a deeply philosophical, multi-layered work that combines oils and acrylics. “It was an attempt to portray the supernatural and heavenly attributes on canvas,” says Jayakumar.

Memory Trap, three paintings that seem to map the contours of the mind and plumb the depths of imagination, combine geometrical shapes painted in vivid shades of two or three colours. From warm colours like red and yellow the artist has travelled to the other end of the colour circle to brush in blues and greens in his third painting in Memory Trap.

The three-part Love Story, according to the author, depicts three states of love –“romantic, a more base form of the emotion, and the serene state of mind that signifies companionship and warmth,” he elaborates with a smile.

Rain Song is a paean in cerulean shades that captures the magic of rain with its simple image of leaves striving to soak in the raindrops. Wings has a bird fleeing claustrophobic rectangles massed together and winging its way towards the open. Jayakumar says his favourites are Wounded and Beyond the Mind. Blue human figures with scarlet tell-tale stains tell a sombre tale in Wounded. Beyond the Mind is a study in strokes and shades. Pastel shades weave a mat (of memories?) while above is a freer space that seems to open up to a different horizon. The topic is not surprising as the artist says: “Painting is a meditative experience.”

“Since the paintings have already been packed and send to Delhi, I feel that a dear but demanding guest has departed from my home. Prior to the exhibition my house was lined with canvas and filled with colour,” says the self-taught artist. Given his articulate nature, it should not be long before fresh colours and lines fill his home in the city.