The humility of a bride, the world of dreams etched on a child's face, the devotion of a saint, the detachment of a monk, the humility of a shepherd and so many more myriad expressions are captured in the painter K.V. Shankar's exhibition “Visual Contemplation of Local Sublimity” at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. His work can, at best, be described as a riot of life and colour.

“These expressions have become such an integral part of rural life that people don't even notice them any more,” says the 33-year-old Shankar, a Karnataka Lalit Kala Academy Award-winner, who used to run a hair salon in his hometown Hubli in Karnataka's Dharwad district, before his drawing teacher at school spotted his artistic skills and advised him to enrol into an art course.

After struggling for a few years to complete his art education, Shankar graduated with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts from the Dharwad University and has been successfully capturing rural life at its best since then.

The realism in his work is quite stark — be it a girl child lost in her world, “A Tiger Boy” painted yellow like a tiger as part of the Moharram celebrations, an aghori saint singing in bliss, a saffron-robed folk musician , a boy selling animal shaped balloons for a living, a nomad child sitting on a pony laden with luggage contemplating on his lost childhood, a vegetable vendor, a ‘Durg Murg' – a devotee of the devi, or nomads who go to each house along with a decked up ‘Kole Basava' or horn bull blessing people in exchange for clothes or food.

All of Shankar's paintings have plain backgrounds so that the focus remains on the character. But the characters themselves are exquisitely painted in acrylic, capturing every detail including the texture of his subjects' clothes, the smoothness of their skin, even the mud caked in their nails. Shankar has even managed to capture the humanity in almost all of the animals he has painted. The expression in his portraits' eyes long remains with the viewer.

“This is my first solo exhibition. It is my attempt to tell the world that I'm here to establish my style of rural portraiture. I hope the public realises the joy that is a part of rural life, despite its many struggles,” adds Shankar, who has done several group shows in Bangalore, Delhi and Calcutta and Hyderabad. He has also organised and participated in several art camps in and around his hometown, Hubli. He hopes to carry his works abroad to show the world “what India is really like.”

“As India becomes more and more developed, it's going to be hard to find these people who are so unique to India. I want to capture them at their best, before they fade into oblivion,” says Shankar, surrounded by his portraits, some of whom are lost in the contemplation of their lord, some of whom are lost in their struggle for survival, but most of whom smile on, unheeding of the brink that, Shankar thinks, their culture now stands upon.

K.V. Shankar's exhibition is on at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath until July 21. For further details contact 9242146933.

Keywords: art exhibition