‘Reliving The Past With All My Might', on at Kashi Art Café finds inspiration in memory

Priti Vadakkath in her show ‘Reliving The Past With All My Might' on at Kashi Art Café, till August 5, peels off the patina of the past and invokes the lost years of childhood. A childhood that somewhere gets obscured in the hurried work a day world, buried in a heap of tired decades. Those years of innocence, wonderment and pure joy seem to offer the artist a peg to take stock of life itself.

Toy story

In 16 works, 12 small (30x22.5 inches) and four large, Priti has recreated the playful years when toys meant the world. In ‘A little is A lot' series, it is the microcosmic toy in which the world of the child grows and falls apart. If in a frame he is engaged in blowing bubbles, the sheer casting away of cares through those nebulous, airy circles, in another he is pitching marbles. The doll, the toy car, the fancy plane, figures of the zebra, giraffe in the hands of little ones transport the viewers to the days when he/she belonged to the pristine times. A boy on the riding wooden horse takes you back again to the age when you rode without a care. So far so good.

These frames are of happy times, a joyous redux. But then in Priti's larger works, the tone changes. Time itself moves quickly between, literally, two worlds - childhood and dotage.

In strong, dark portraitures, from her family album, the artist culls out aunts, uncles, grandmothers and places them high looking down on a table on which are placed colourful toys. The expressions are darkened and hazy as though conveying an incoherency of thoughts.

Watercolours

As if the older generation is struggling to put their thoughts together about a lost past, when they were young. The works carry the strain and the trauma of old age, of a lost might. But it captures the entire story of life poignantly.

Priti says that though watercolour is an unforgiving medium, it is wonderful. In this series it has matched her motives, conveying the sobriety of dotage and capturing the vivaciousness of childhood. She has dexterously used it for dual effect. In the large works, where she takes a more serious line of thought, the sheer size of monochromatic colours with just the colourful toys as edging lend a somberness. In the smaller works, she has reversed the technique, adroitly using the “negative” effect. Brighter hair, brighter eyes and colourful toys, the artist has judiciously played with black and white.

In her first solo show in the city, a city where she has spent a fairly large part of her childhood, it is just right that this series should be exhibited here first.

Keywords: art exhibition