The ongoing art show at MNF gallery, featuring the works of 101 artists, emphasises the importance of following road safety rules

A bashed-up motorbike next to a bulging mat with a ‘blood’ stained cloth peeping out, a suggestion of a corpse…the sight is as unseemly as it is ghastly. An audio installation depicts a battered autorickshaw with school bags in it and a next to it is a flex depicting an autorickshaw overloaded with school children. Since the show ‘On Road Be Serious’ is a public awareness programme on road safety and security a dose of reality is inevitable.

Asif Ali Komu of Komusons Art Gallery has brought together 101 artists to drive home, and in some works din in, the notion of safe behaviour on the road. At the show, on at the Madhavan Nayar Foundation’s (MNF) art gallery - drunken driving, talking on the phone and driving, speeding - find expression through the paint brush, canvas, toy cars and cameras.

Dangerous behaviour

All manner of dangerous behaviour on the road have been depicted – a man talking on the mobile phone while driving has a noose around his neck, a speeding lorry gobbles up an overloaded autorickshaw with the obituary page of a newspaper forming the backdrop, a drunken driver being taken directly into the nether world – the message is ominous as it ought to be.

Since the works would not fit in the gallery, some of them have been placed outside the gallery in the picturesque campus of the MNF. The artists from the length and breadth of Kerala have showcased their work. The indifferent attitude to driving and disregard for traffic rules is the inspiration behind putting together the show.

“I lived outside Kerala for almost 25 years. And when I returned I was struck by the attitude on the road. For instance if there is an old woman waiting to cross the road nobody shows courtesy and lets her pass. That combined with the number of road accidents on our roads prompted me to hold this show,” says Asif Ali. Word of mouth publicity brought the 101 artists together. The show has a theme song written by a participating artist, Fouzia Aboobacker.

The song tells the story of a mother waiting at home for her son to return. “There is always someone waiting at home, who worries when one is late and there are the unfortunate few whose worst fears are confirmed when a dear one returns wrapped in a shroud,” Asif Ali says.

A few paintings speak of this aspect of fatalities on the road. While most paintings talk about the chaos on the roads there are others which just depict life on the road or the absence of it.

There is one of an elephant ambling on a road carrying palm frond with an autorickshaw trailing. There is even a ‘procession’ of political leaders such as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and V. S. Achuthanandan (dolls) carrying placards against consumption of alcohol. The exhibition is open from 10 am. to 6 p.m. and concludes on January 12.