Maniilal Sabrimala's exhibition of paintings titled ‘Essence of Energy' is an ode to Lord Ganesha

The elephant God is artist Maniilal Sabrimala's muse. All his paintings till date centre on Lord Ganesha.

Maniilal's ongoing exhibition, titled ‘Essence of Energy,' at the newly-launched Energy Art Gallery is also devoted to Ganesha. While some paintings at the exhibition have the image of the elephant god watching you, many works have the god playing hide and seek with the viewer. The ones that have the image of Ganesha playing peek-a-boo make you pause and ponder on the layers of imagery in the works.

Nearly all of Maniilal's paintings have captions. And while they give viewers an insight into the artist's views of his works, somehow, as you gaze at the paintings you feel the images on the canvas communicating with the viewer.

Take Dhanya Yoga, for instance. This painting has a candle which is burning bright. Look closer and you find it resembling a human, and the branches spreading up to the wick resembling veins. Ganesha sits meditatively at the base. Meditation is the way to spiritual enlightenment, is what comes to mind as you look closely at the fine brush strokes on the canvas. This theme is carried forward to another of Maniilal's paintings, which has Ganesha merging into a tree with its branches touching the sky.

Question of faith

The painting ‘Divisions of Faith,' seems to emphasise Vayalar's lines that all religions are manmade. This painting, which, at first sight, seems like thick lines on a canvas, is just an allusion. Upon perusal, one can make out outlines of the elephant god.

‘Universal Form,' which depicts the elephant god becoming one with the cosmos, leaves one with questions as does ‘Knowledge of the absolute,' which has the face of Ganesha emerging from a pile of rocks. Is the former painting hinting at Ganesha being the God of all Gods or that he is all seeing and the latter at the fact that God is in every little thing?.

A painting of a wizened looking Ganesha blending into a rocky cave, has one pondering on whether religion has taken a back seat in our lives.

The skill of the artist is evident in a painting titled ‘The Opulence of the absolute.' It shows a picture of a tree, with images of Ganesha in the trunk. One can also see Ganesha blending into the leaves.

Maniilal could not pursue his interest in art as his parents insisted he put academics first. After a stint as a teacher in Bhutan, he moved to Hyderabad. “I decided to join a Fine Arts course while in Hyderabad, but the principal scoffed at the thought of admitting someone past his youth for the course. It was that ridicule that strengthened my resolve to become an artist.”

And so, while through trial and error he did learn the art of wielding a paintbrush, a degree in Fine Arts from Karnataka helped polish it.

Maniilal's exhibition of paintings is on till August 31.

Energy Art Gallery is located opposite Raj Bhavan, Kowdiar. The gallery is closed on Sundays. Contact: 2313050.

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