‘Tri-Colour' an exhibition of paintings by Shivamurthy H.N., Shwetha Nagalapur and Rashmi K.P. depicts scenes from Dharwad

Dharwad, Karnataka, is a town that is steeped in history. It is known for its contributions to Indian culture, most notably classical music and literature. Bringing frames of Dharwad to the city is a group of final year students from College of Fine Arts, Dharwad – Shivamurthy H.N., Shwetha Nagalapur and Rashmi K.P. The trio through their ‘Tri-Colour' exhibition of paintings at Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery, Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, showcases rustic scenes of Dharwad in earthen colours, almost postcard like.

Their paintings seem to celebrate women. Says Shivamurthy: “Women are the backbone of Dharwad's rural society. They are the ones that hold the families together; often the bread winners of their families.” And thus but for two or three paintings, men do not appear on any canvas.

Women at work

In their paintings in acrylic, you see frames of women going about their daily chores or at work. If one of Shivamurthy's paintings has a woman taking her goats out to graze, Rashmi's has a fisherwoman and her daughter selling fish, while Shwetha's has a woman selling flowers to another woman vendor.

However, this is where the similarities between their works end. Shivamurthy's canvases also celebrate music. A painting by the entrance of the exhibition hall has a woman with a sitar welcoming viewers to the event, while the painting right beside it has a woman with a wine glass in one hand and the other reaching out to a guitar. Does she make her livelihood through music, one wonders?

Another of Shivamurthy's canvas has a woman again with a sitar, except in this she seems to be on another plane. That music, brings us closer to the divine, seems to be what the artist is trying to say through this painting.

Explains Shivamurthy when you ask him about the women and music in his works: “Women in Dharwad's villages often sing or listen to the radio while they go about doing their chores. Music is part of their lives.”

Rashmi's works on the other hand has links to nature. “Dharwad is a land filled with greenery and it has inspired me a lot,” she says. And so in her paintings one sees a crow juxtaposed against the break of dawn and deer frolicking in a forest that is represented by swirls of the brush in colours of blue and green.

Shwetha's paintings focus mostly on women. One of her works seems to echo Shivamurthy's sentiments of music bringing us closer to divinity. In this painting, she has a featureless woman playing the sitar. Another frame has an angel flying through rainbow clouds. An arresting picture by Shwetha has a hand holding a bottle, a man watching from a corner as a woman cowers in the other and hands floating in the air. Domestic violence, one wonders?

The trio's paintings are untitled, which makes them open to interpretation. “The reason why there are no captions to our paintings is because we feel art speaks it all. There is no language barrier when it comes to art; just like music,” says Shwetha.

Well, art seems to bring people together too as the three artists are good friends. “In fact, our professors tease us and call us ‘Tri-Colours' as we are always together,” grins Rashmi. The trio's exhibition has been sponsored by Karnataka Lalithakala Academy. “This is our first exhibition outside Karnataka, but we hope to conduct more of such exhibitions soon,” the trio chimes. Their exhibition of paintings is on till February 8.