‘Fire’, an exhibition of paintings by architect S. Gopakumar, is a tribute to the elements

The antics of the birds that visit the Plumeria tree in S. Gopakumar’s garden provide a peaceful early morning ambience to complement his newspaper reading. And this scene of tranquillity was soon immortalised on canvas as ‘Morning Visitors’, one of the many works by him that are currently on display at the Durbar Hall Art Gallery as part of his exhibition, ‘Fire’.

Architect and artist

An architect by profession, Gopakumar has been painting since his college days. He had already received a Kerala Lalithakala Akademi award for his efforts by the time he completed his architecture course from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, in 1970. Despite focusing more on his career since his move to Kochi from Thiruvananthapuram in 1976, Gopakumar says his passion for painting has not lessened in the slightest. “The exhibition is called ‘Fire’ because it represents inspiration. A while ago I felt the urge to paint again and ended up creating 12 works in a span of about two-and-a-half months,” he says.

The titular element is not lacking in his works either, with large sections of canvas devoted to late evening skies; large bands of red in its many hues streaking across the scene. ‘Angry Crab’ depicts a crustacean on a pristine white beach before broad strokes of colour are unleashed upon the eyes. ‘Island’ is a vision of a few skeletal trees feebly extending their leafless branches skyward as another crimson streaked sunset soaks the waters around them.

“For me, more than the result, it is the action of painting that elates the soul. I come from a family of artists and designers, and a family exhibition we held at Thiruvananthapuram in 2012 got me painting again,” says Gopakumar, before telling the story of how a kite seller he met in Chandigarh became the basis for his work of the same name.

Dedicated to Nature

His latest works are a series of five paintings dedicated to the five elements of Nature—fire, water, earth, sky and air. The serene reflection of the moon on a body of water contrasts the angry flame that occupies the canvas beside it. A brownish hue permeates Gopakumar’s vision of the earth, with giant buildings anchored by strong roots, while the sky dwarfs the buildings and trees that stand beneath it, painted with subtle hues of the fiery motif. A few overlapping swirls in smoky grey suffice to depict air.

Though most of the works have the undertones of Nature and the elements, a few stand out by not conforming to the theme. The ‘Space Cube’ goes for a light blue shade while ‘Silence Of The Leaves’ is a tapestry of green, with a tiger and a rabbit being its sole inhabitants. The last of the works on display, ‘Black Hole’, is an example of art extending beyond the canvas, or in this case right through it, as it includes a physical hole right in the middle of the work.

The exhibition is on at the Durbar Hall Art Gallery till February 28.