With over 100 artists showcasing their works, the renovated Lalithakala Akademi makes a boisterous comeback

The moods are assorted, so is the medium. Politicians, writers and sculptors took to the brush and joined seasoned and new artists to give a colourful welcome to the renovated Lalithakala Akademi art gallery in Kozhikode. Over 100 paintings by as many artists give the pristine white walls of the gallery a rush of colour.

Among the works on show are a couple done by politicians and authors who suggest they are equally adept at wielding the brush to express themselves. The inaugural show at the gallery seeks to give space to artists big and small, known and unknown, old and young — all belonging to the region. The sketch by Namboodiri and the oil on canvas work of Jeevan Thomas live peacefully with the bright serpent faces of Mallika K.K. and the graphic designs of Baiju Raaj.

The paintings are a healthy mix of amateurish and professional, delicate copies and striking originals, modernist and murals, realistic and abstract. They range from serene portrayals of rustic life to deeply political and hard-hitting works. Satheesh Mithra’s oil on canvas is a striking picture of the Gujarat riots. Qutubuddin Ansari, whose teary eyes and folded hands became the most poignant image of the riots, surfaces in Mithra’s painting, his face enveloped by images of life gone awry. So kitchen utensils, cooking gas, a girl, a doll and even a train appear lopsided. Kodankandath Antony Francis’ mixed media on canvas depicts a village. Not an idyllic one, but Marad.

Ramu Kochattil resorts to charcoal to sketch nostalgia and village life. Ambily and others paint portraits on glass. The paintings of Anjasha and Aneesh K.R. are strikingly real. Anjasha’s work focuses on a shoe just before it comes down on a butterfly, while Aneesh’s acrylic on canvas depicts two booted legs on a tightrope.

Mural paintings

Giving a glimpse of tradition at the exhibition are the mural paintings by a range of artists. The staple Ganesha and Krishna and Radha are here, the signature being the delicate and judicious mix of colours.

The calamity that awaits modern life is brought out by Rajesh Parappil. His acrylic on canvas shows landmass spilt across the middle with trees, men and women in different stages of free fall. Sunil Ashokapuram paints gloom with ashen, burnt logs strewn around the canvas. The bright spot is a pair of green leaves being carried in.

There are also refreshingly happy and natural works on display like Thasli Mujeeb’s canvas full of cheery leaves — bottle green, pale green and yellow. There are also ones with an element of fantasy like Lisy Unnikrishnan’s intriguingly purple world with purple bell flowers and a woman with butterfly wings.

Also on show are intensely real snapshots like that of Sasi Edavarad’s tribal family, which has a young boy pulling at his indulgent mother’s enormous ear rings. E. Suresh has put up a cartoon where statues dictate, and Madanan meticulously sketches the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai. The exhibition, on till January 5, appears to be a celebration of life’s myriad shades and moods.