‘Drawing Show', an art show on at David Hall, is an exploration of various concerns

Imagine the joy an artist derives when a viewer gets crazily inspired by his work and pens a poem on the spur of the moment. Well that's what happened to Jayendran after Lieselotte Stiegler spontaneously wrote out a short poem after seeing his series of seven works, ‘With Wings' at David Hall Art Gallery.

Jayendran of course feels handsomely rewarded. He is one of the four artists showcasing his drawings at a show called simply- ‘Drawing Show'- at the landmark heritage site- David Hall.

Black and white

All the drawings are done in black and white, with strategic use of colours, a hint here, a dash there and in some a clear, though sparing use. But wherever used, the effect is dramatic, most so, in the powerful and strong works of Sunil Vallarpadom.

Sunil is charged, he says, by the injustice and collusion of the State and the corporate sector in exploiting the tribals of Chhattisgarh. He voices his concern strongly, the colours highlighting his intense comment. In the dramatic two toned palette he expresses the helplessness of innocents facing trial for wrongs not done, convicts waiting for justice and the touching work of a young tribal girl trapped in the vile net of the powers that are.

The works titled ‘I am innocent why are you shooting into my heart?' itself is a straight forward query into an injustice that seems to have no easy answer. The use of bright red, strategically placed on the hearts of the protagonists is a telling effective use of the colour.

Of history

From the purely political one moves to the socio-political canvas of P. V. Nandan, who has chosen to celebrate the black legends of Afro- American history. Icons, who have contributed in different fields, from politics, to music, to sport. So we have Martin Luther King, Bob Marley, Nelson Mandela, Cassius Clay, Michael Jackson and Pele re-invoked in black and white, in dry pastels on paper. “Black is the deepest colour…it gives intensity… the same intensity that inspires deeply in my heart,” says Nandan. He has skilfully drawn out the heroes and laboured over the detailing. The backgrounds are telling of the time, period of history and some of the most well known facts about the men. The text behind Bob Marley reads the chorus of Buffalo Soldiers, while Martin Luther King's, has snatches from his famous, ‘I have a Dream' speech, Mandela's too is a political backdrop. Here again the white and black seems to abet and assist the artist in his passionate drive to celebrate his icons.

Asanthan loves his home grown tales and sounds and sights. The cow, goat, elephant, fish, pheasant are once again celebrated in his works, the limitation of colour not extenuating the eulogy. If he had a full palette would he do better? One doubts for there is pellucid adulation in his works for the chosen themes. A free flow of joy is clearly evident.

If the young girl in Jayendran's works - ‘With Wings' – is searching for freedom, then she could finally sit on a rainbow, but by the end of the story that he is telling, and narrating very keenly, in seven slow steps, his heroine is flying in the sky above, looking down happily at the world below.

For freedom

Fantasy, dreams are her world which the artist has drawn out. Jayendran as a child used to draw on walls with coal. He recollects, “I remember that. I feel the freedom.” In these works he seems to search for that bygone sense of freedom. They liberate him to a point just as did to Ms. Steigler who wrote out and handed these words to the artist:

White feather on a black bird

Could be the sign that you cannot cross the bridge

Between your body and your mind, with foreign wings…

…your soul will speak if you

Nourish your body with the prison of illusion.”

‘Drawing Show' may not hold the same experience for onlookers as it did for Ms. Steigler but it will definitely stir strongly as it sweeps from politics, to history, culture and fantasy. The show concludes on January 3, 2012.