A retrospective of V.B. Venu's works present the many shades of the artist

A retrospective of 47 works done from 1993 to 2008 of artist V.B. Venu are on show at David Hall, Fort Kochi.

Loved and respected as an art teacher (Director of Chaitram Fine Arts Institute, Palluruthy), an artist of repute in his own right Venu is a master in a field where godfathers and galleries have begun to play a big role.

Away from those lights Venu's copious works present a dioramic canvas to see the evolution of an artist who of late is displaying shades of political-pictorial activism. The newer works (2008) are a literal indictment on the political scene.

Political hue

“Yes, I am angry and I am provoked,” says Venu in his inimitable gentle voice and his honest gentle smile, displaying none of the anger in either tone or tenor. But searing rage painted in deep acrylics is there for one and all to see and feel in the large canvases, (6x6, 6x4). Social inequalities, prejudiced policies, hidden agendas: “contemporary politics is ever relevant” he believes and depicts the injustices. Just that the canvases address his argument in heavy- hued interpretative imagery. The butterflies, charming, naïve innocent are the young girls harassed by male predators in a society that cannot give women security. The impending war over water is what Venu addresses in a large canvas showing bottled water, its questionable purity and the covert unfair trade practices behind it. Imperialism is the caging of the birds of peace, a commodity that's now negotiated between the powers that are. Venu paints these truths.

His earlier works (1993) are surrealistic, where the artist seems to be rejoicing in artistic licence. Realism merges with the strange and hence man, woman, animals, flora and fauna meld into interesting forms and shapes. Mythological imagery too is roped in to several layers of interpretations.

As an art teacher, Venu stresses on the importance of drawing. “It is the basic”, he says but to express courageously is the strength he imparts his students with. Fearlessness is evident in his own works.

At 51, Venu who is a part of the art fraternity of the city and State, says he is not from the mainstream, and hence untouched from the vagaries of the art world.

You sense a certain self imposed isolation, which gives him total freedom to paint his mind and thoughts. “I paint and exhibit independently,” he says referring subtly to perhaps an inequity that colours the art cabal.

Being a teacher he has worked in all mediums from pencil drawings, sketches, oil on canvas, watercolours and acrylic. But watercolours is his favourite medium, giving him the fluidity that an artistic, imaginative mind desires.

V.B. Venu has participated in several groups and solo shows in the State and abroad.

The show is on till February 21.