Panthirukulam, a group of 12 artists, has brought out the many faces of a woman at an exhibition, ‘Saktheyam', at the Indian Art Gallery

A woman can be a creator and destroyer at the same time. She can be calm and violent as a storm, she can be mother, the ultimate protector—compassionate, loving and all enduring. A group of 12 artists, which calls itself Panthirukulam, has brought out the many faces of a woman through very different brush strokes at an exhibition, ‘Saktheyam', at the Indian Art Gallery.

Nothing escapes the artist's eye. Right from the women of the epics to the ordinary woman of today, the struggle a woman goes through to assert her identity has been portrayed.

Balakrishnan Kadiroor uses a potent combination of red and orange to bring out the maelstrom of emotions a woman experiences during pregnancy.

As new life takes shape in her womb, she celebrates the beauty of life, her hair spread out in thick ochre lines. The artist does justice to the grandiose of the Mahabharatha, with a flourish of bold acrylic hues on canvas. Kunti's unwavering devotion to the sun God and the birth of the valiant Karna is the inspiration behind the work.

History and reality merge in Benny Cherai's work. While Kerala's folklore is brimming with tales of courageous women such as Unniyarcha, it hangs its head in utter shame and helplessness as crimes against women continue. The fate of Sowmya, a young girl who was attacked and killed while she was travelling on a train, is juxtaposed against the power of women from history possessed.

Panthirukulam was formed one-and-a-half years ago and it has conducted three exhibitions. “We are from diverse backgrounds and have very different styles. It's an enriching experience as we share our ideas and there is a feeling of oneness. We also conduct camps every month,” says Sasi K. Warrier, the curator and owner of Indian Art Gallery.

Panthirukulam had also conducted an exhibition as a tribute to artist M.F. Husain. The group's next project, titled Varshachitra, is on the varied expressions of Malayalam months. “The collection has 144 paintings and it would showcase the different styles of the artists,” he says.

Draupadi

Warrier's oil on canvas represents Draupadi's dilemma. The Pandavas and Kauravas metamorphose into chess pieces as Draupadi sits in the centre, absorbed in prayer. Warrier, who specialises in murals, says he has tried a different style in the painting.

While most themes have been drawn from the Mahabharatha, artists' interpretations of Goddesses and real women too are part of the collection. Seemon Joseph's white and blue acrylic on textured canvas reflects the pain of homeless children who find solace in Mother Teresa's arms. Though the Mother's face is not detailed, the aura painted in solemn shades depicts her saintliness.

Goddess Kali, too, looks her terrifying self flaunting her 18 arms in Dinesh Shenoy's painting. She revels in her destructive power and the bright yellow backdrop enhances the fiery intensity of her rage.

An angel

Contemporary art can baffle as much as it can delight. Lines, colours and forms sometimes blend, making it difficult to understand at first glance. Each time one looks at it, the painting would seem to reveal something new. Ajith Kumar's work has a naked form of a woman, whose hair extends behind her, seamlessly merging with a large black cloud. She has a pair of scissors in her hand with which she would cut her umblical cord. Sajith Puthukkalavattom's work depicts an angel, demure with pretty wings, but sitting on a swing. Women, despite having the freedom to be themselves, sometimes forget to use it, he seems to convey.

The exhibition will be on till January 16.

Keywords: art exhibition