Alennot is a “travel painter.” He loves to travel as much as he loves to paint. And his works capture some of his travels on canvas. “I'm not trying to recreate what I saw, but what I experienced,” says Alennott. ‘Jai Guru' an exhibition of paintings on at Art Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum, showcases some of the artist's experience during his stay in West Bengal.
What captures one's attention as one enters the art gallery is a huge canvas depicting a group of Baul singers deeply engrossed in their tunes. “The chief singer is Basudeb Das Baul, the ones beside him are Niranjan Das Baul and Ravi Das Baul,” says the artist.
He continues: “I lived at their ashram in West Bengal. In fact, I had a studio near it. For these musicians, music is spiritual and I was fascinated at how they used the words ‘Jai Guru' as a greeting, just like you would say ‘Good Morning.' Hence, the title for my exhibition.”
The painting has an amazing attention to detail, right from the look of devotion on Basudeb's face to the look of concentration on Ravi's as he plays a percussion instrument. The rest of the musicians too seem to be on a different plane.
Another picture that captures your attention is that of two men starring at you. One of them holding a goat almost protectively looks incredibly familiar and on a closer look you realise it is a portrait of the artist.
Says Alennott: “This is a scene from Kankalitala Day in Bengal. It is a day when goats are offered as sacrifice. The hut-like structure you see behind me is my studio. I painted this picture during a massive debate on the holocaust in the news. How a certain group of people was targeted in the name of ethnic cleansing affected me. Somewhere in my mind I related the slaughter of goats to the Jewish genocide and it resulted in the painting.”
‘Just Married' depicts a sad couple. “The duo eloped to get married and is living in a basement of a friend's house in Bengal to avoid detection. As they live in fear of being found, there is no real joy in their lives.”
However not all of Alennot's paintings are based on his experiences in Bengal. There are a couple that are closer to home. A fascinating one is of an elderly woman. One look at her face and one knows that she has a story to tell, every single wrinkle seems to promise an exciting tale. “That is my grandmother. She is one of my favourite models. I love painting her as she is a woman who faces life's adversities head on.”
While ‘Noolukettu' has the artist capturing the scene of his niece's baptism, ‘War' has one thinking about the kind of toys children play with. The image shows an elderly man wearing a lungi and a shirt with two kids. He is baby-sitting them and though there are various toys around him, one kid chooses a toy gun, while the other is content with nothing. A painting depicting late poet Ayyappan is the artist's tribute to the poet.
Keywords: painting exhibition