Four artists interpret the realities of life through varied styles and colours at the ongoing show at David Hall in Fort Kochi

Their reflections on life, memories and hopes, happiness and sorrows are all there, at David Hall, Fort Kochi, in colours bright and dull, on canvas and paper. The quartet, who are showing their works are N.N.Mohandas, K.P.Pradeep Kumar, Joshy T.C. and Benny K.A. Of the 21 works in the show called ‘Paintings and Paperworks', 12 are oil paintings of Mohandas, both big and small.

The middle aged Mohandas, who has gone through several artistic phases, strikes one as different from the crowd. He does not resort to bombastic explanations about his work, or seek to portray ‘in vogue' views, that he does not sincerely hold. “When people say they want to see my paintings, then I am a success. Otherwise, it's my fault if people do not want to see them. Children always understand the language of pictures. They enjoy what I paint, and I am happy,” says the maverick, most of whose works exhibited here are in pastel shades, symbolic of the man, never loud.

The frames carry a street, park or a wayside cafeteria, always with people sitting in different postures. It could be either leisure or laziness, but the mood of the people, abstract forms, sitting on the benches or chairs is far from stressed out, so that the easy going ambience is infectious and seeps into the viewer.

Veterans' contributions

Mohandas says that artists of the earlier generation like K.C.S. Panikkar and Ramkinkar Baij did so much for fellow artists and opened so many doors to them.

“In Baroda, where I studied, we were allowed to grow as we wanted. Nobody forced anything on us. We were just guided by our teachers.” Art has moved on, but Mohandas is of the view that a painting is much more than an investment. But often it's factors other than artistic that prod people to buy works of art. Snob value counts much. The name, the signature is what sells after a point, not the work. There are artists and artists. The chasm between the haves and the have nots among them is widening, just as in the larger global scene.

All these realities make many works at any show pictures of sadness, of frustration and doubt. There are very few ‘happy' paintings. In K.P.Pradeep kumar's huge green canvas, in the centre of the gallery, women in orderly rows and an equal number of umbrellas over them dominate, speaks of spiritual crisis, says the artist. Titled transfiguration, the umbrella is a recurring motif in all five of his works here. Four works, in this series, are circular, pastels on rice paper and feature a prominent motherly figure, or a younger woman, on a tight rope, with snakes somewhere in the frame, the threatening JCB, et al. There are men, at work on grinding mortars, all within the circle, almost like a celebratory flower carpet, but portraying stark doubts. Pitted amongst unfamiliar urban surroundings and manners, the rural soul seeks to go back to the roots. The angst comes through in the drawings.

Joshy T.C has two acrylics which portray the December sky above and the Xmas stars below. Solitude is effected through the lack of human figures and the all pervading darkness.

Autobiographical works

Benny K.A, who works with ‘Uravu' in Wayanad, has put up two untitled works which are autobiographical, he says. The use of space and airspace strikes you. A world where roads, people, buildings etc go unconventionally haywire. A big green cricket out of proportion with the rest, sits in one corner of the frame. I would love to believe that the artist is trying to tell the world about the disproportionate space that we give for the game of cricket in our lives, wasting umpteen man hours in the process, contributing nothing to the lives of fellow beings. All the four artists have exhibited in and outside the State several times, both solo shows and groups. Their works will hang on the David Hall walls till January 24.