Friday Review » Art

Updated: October 16, 2009 18:54 IST

On a new terrain

Divya Kumar
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The works of seven artists on show at Gallery Sri Parvati offer diverse perspectives on the complex subject of human migration.

'Migration: Crisis of Conflict?' Seven senior artists come together in exploration of that subject at an exhibition on at Gallery Sri Parvati. Their interpretations range from the literal to the philosophical, the abstract to the deeply personal, and the resulting collection of works makes for interesting viewing in more ways than one.

Each artist brings his signature style to the exhibition, such as Sam Adaikalasamy with his brilliantly-coloured patch-work landscapes and C. Douglas with his introspective, symbolic works in muted grey, black and white. Adaikalasamy's paintings speak of the connection between man and his natural environment, and the heavy dark skies, fiery golden-red earth and churning green-grey oceans depicted seem to warn of the calamity that can result when the balance of that environment is upset by human activity. Douglas' works, particularly his 'Memory of Tightrope Walker' series, on the other hand, seem to address the inner turmoil that walking the line between two cultures can create.

The moody works evoke a sense of dislocation and uncertainty. V. Ramesh's gouache and watercolour works, large white canvases covered with hectic black-and-grey splotches, patterns and squiggles, also convey a sense of struggle and conflict, an outline of a human figure emerging in the midst of the chaos in one and the load-bearing tortoise in another.

The works of Rm. Palaniappan and S. Harshavardhan take a step back and offer a more 'macro' view of the subject. Palaniappan's spare canvases work as abstract maps, criss-crossed with dark and pale lines (Conte crayon on treated paper) like veins under the skin, with Tamil lettering and shading in the colours of the Indian flag seeming to make a nationalistic statement.

Harshavardhan's vast textured paintings in muted tones of green-blue or dusty-reds work more like abstract landscapes, conjuring up images of wide open spaces, oceans and deserts that need to be crossed.

The cultural aspect of migration is touched upon in K. Muralidharan's muted grey-black figurative abstracts filled with symbolic imagery of the fables and stories of his childhood. Each of the works speaks of how these tales of our cultural past remain with us, regardless of the passage of time or of physical migration.

Bibek Santra's 'Human Migration' might be the piece that interprets the subject most literally, depicting a black-and-white mass of humanity against a wall of solid red, with pots, sickles, ploughs scattered throughout as symbols of human toil and endeavour. The whole speaks vocally about the human experience of migration, the sweat and the sheer effort it involves, rather than exploring it as a purely abstract concept. On until October 24, this exhibition offers various - and valuable - artistic perspectives on the complexity of human migration across the globe and its implications.

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