‘Expressions’, an art show on at Hotel Le Meridien’s Art Corridor, is a visual treat

A pair of large eyes peers out of a huge canvas. The face that owns it evokes curious memories of an innocence long forgotten. Of an age of green fields, blue skies, birds, bees and dainty dandelions. A world far, far away from the madness of machines, as artist Babu K.G. puts it.

The young girl in Babu’s painting is a girl he met during one of his stays at a tribal settlement in Wayanad. Intrigued by the ways of the natives who live in harmony with nature, Babu derives much of his artistic energy from the people he meets on his numerous journeys into Kerala’s tribal hamlets. “The tribals have a highly evolved culture. They know how to strike a perfect balance between their lives and the environment,” says the artist, who blames man’s obsession with technology for creating a permanent disconnect with nature.

A space for art

The work is the first one would see at the Art Corridor in Hotel Le Meridien. The hotel has devoted an entire passage leading up to a cosy corner for art. A joint initiative by Palette People, an organisation promoting art and artists in Kerala and Le Meridien, the show titled ‘Expressions’, showcases the works of ten emerging contemporary artists. The paintings were done at the seven-day camp conducted at the hotel in January for the artists to interact with each other and indulge in their creative calling.

Most of the works on display are evidently inspired by the surroundings. Dhara Mehrotra’s acrylic on canvas appreciates nature in two different ways. While one has an earthy feel, brown and green blades of tall grass set against an azure sky, the other is a larger-than-life depiction of a glamourised version of nature. The latter is done in brownish yellow tone and the careful detailing includes tiny, dragonflies with gossamer wings. “They are an element of fantasy,” says the artist from Delhi, who is greatly inspired by the natural beauty of Kerala.

It is not just the picturesque landscape of Kerala that makes it unique, its people, whose lives are dependent on it, too, form an important part of its aesthetic fabric. Prathapan.G interprets the life of the fisherfolk and their bond with the sea.

An artist’s preoccupation with nature continues in Kajal Charankatt’s works. She explores her continuing fascination with the lotus pond. Both her paintings, in shades of a mysterious green and beige, depict the lotus in a sea of waxy green leaves. “The lotus has an important place in mythology. It is, in my view, a sublime symbol, holding its head high though its roots are steeped in mud, which is a metaphor for the materialistic life we live,” she says. Kajal is working on her ‘Lotus Pool’ series, which already has a collection of 12 paintings. A few of them were part of a group show at Gallery Beyond in Mumbai.

The ethereal beauty of a forest in the night time comes alive in K.A. Devadas’s canvas. Dense foliage punctuated with bright red flowers and a silvery moon hiding behind the trees. A green fairy-like being is shown flying in between the branches.

The lyrical beauty of painting captivates in Francis Xavier’s works, too. Detailing is the key. He diligently employs minute strokes and curves to give a special photograph-like quality to his works.

Contemporary concerns

The plight of a fast-shrinking countryside is reflected in Bindhi Rajagopal’s works. “There is no space for nature. Every piece of land is engulfed by concrete,” she says. Bindhi, whose works under the same theme, ‘Branchless Nest’, will be displayed at the United Art Fair in Delhi and the India Art Fair in Mumbai in November, says unchecked urbanisation creates a kind of unrest within.

A bird pecking at a fruit may not come across as an intense visual at first. But Anil P.G.’s painting plays on the mind, making one realise that it may not be long before such a scene vanishes from our surroundings altogether.

Similarly, K.P. Wilfred’s works are an open denouncement of urbanisation.

Falguni Bhatt Sanghvi, an artist from Kolkata, delves into the deeper recesses of her mind to create a fantastical portrait of life. Her canvases seem like the imprints of an artist’s mind—layered, complex and abstract.

Though Palette People has conducted several shows and camps, this is the first time it has included artists from outside the state, says Cyril P. Jacob, the founder of Palette People. “It would help artists from Kerala understand techniques used by artists outside the State, who are relatively more exposed to different styles,” he says. Palette People is setting up an Artists’ Residency in Wagamon, where artists can stay and work.

The show, which is on till September 30, has 20 paintings on display.