K.P. Thomas’ paintings dwell upon the social and political fabric of society

K.P. Thomas has always let his angst, fears, protest, concerns, insecurity…. flow on to his canvases. “There is a personal or social context to my works,” says Thomas, a former bank employee, as he takes us through each of his works in the collection ‘Illustrations of Untold Stories’, his exhibition currently on at Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan.

If ‘Floating Head of Martyr’ is a pointer towards political murders, ‘Fallen Flag’ shares his disappointment over “disintegrating Left ideologies”. But a majority of his works portray women. “I empathise with them, their pain and suffering. I firmly believe that women are stronger than men. But somehow they don’t realise that power and allow themselves to be exploited or victimised,” he says.

One of his works depicts the woman as a snake, and the man as a snake charmer. “Just a bite is enough to kill the charmer, but the snake does not do that. It is trained to dance to the tune of the charmer, just as a woman has adapted herself to be always dominated by a man,” he explains.

The agony of those women deprived of their self-esteem and left to moan over their fate has been captured in many works. And among the lot, he chooses the one on the victim of the Suryanelli sex racket case as close to his heart.

“I don’t want to explain … there is so much to be said,” he says with a sigh.

Then there is his concern for tribals. A native of Wayanad, he is familiar with the myth of Karithandan, a tribal who was killed by the English after he helped them find a way to Wayanad from the mainland. When his spirit refused to die, it was ‘chained’ to a tree. He has shown this via an installation and connected it to a work on a protest organised by the tribals under their leader C.K. Janu, when they constructed huts around the Secretariat.

“The chain has tied not just Karinthandan, but the tribal community who seek liberation in many ways,” he says.

An interesting pick of the exhibition is a collection of over 30 paintings on perforated paper. “I made them while working in the bank. I was a cashier and whenever I got free time, I used to make drawings on the perforated paper in the trash can. In a way, the bank became my studio…,” he says with a smile. Most of these works also have women as the central character.

The exhibition concludes on November 21. Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.