The works of Francis Kodankandath and Sunil Poomangalath attempt to create a balance in diversity

Grey columns of gloomy text interspersed with mug shots of deceased people—who knew that inspiration can lie in the morbid depths of the obituary page of the daily newspaper? It did for artist Kodankandath Antony Francis. He has reproduced the standard obit page on canvas in acrylic for a show at the Durbar Hall Art Gallery. In stark contrast, his co-host, Sunil Poomangalath paints a languid countryside with contented people and livestock.

‘The Art of Small Things,’ an exhibition of paintings by Francis and Sunil, brings together works that are entirely different in treatment, style and tenor. “We have been friends and have worked on many paintings together. But a combined show is a first,” Francis says. While 17 of Francis’ works are on display, Sunil has brought 10. Both self-taught artists attempt to create a balance in diversity.

It is the simple, day-to-day things that appeal to Francis, he says. But even the simplest of his works contain an underlying philosophy. His ‘Application for the patent of a paper boat’ is an example. “It is based on the principle of a paper boat. It has got a fascinating geometry hidden within. I wanted to recreate it,” Francis says. The work in paper has a 3D effect and is a take on American hegemony. “We have reached such a state that even a paper boat is patented by America,” says Francis.

Sunil’s heart lies in murals and his works clearly reflect that. A work titled ‘Prakrithi’ depicts a woman-tree. The lower part of her body forms the trunk, tapering into a hundred roots and her hair makes up the numerous branches. She has lotus buds for ear lobes and her perfectly proportioned body denotes certain Godliness. Sunil learnt murals on the job assisting several artists.

His ‘Radha Madhav’ is another, piece which is a delicate play of lines and curves enhanced by a romantic use of colours. “Nature is my muse. The nostalgic effect of a peaceful countryside brings out the best in one, doesn’t it?” Sunil asks.

Francis’ style is a distinctive mosaic of colours, which requires one to behold the work from a distance. At each look, the painting seems to reveal something new. Not having a degree in art, perhaps, helped his craft, Francis believes. “My thought has not been straight-jacketed by theories,” he adds. Francis, who has a National Akademi Award, three State awards including the Lalitakala Akademi Award to his credit, has also showcased his works abroad. A Customs Superintendant, art is a great way of relaxation for Francis. “Only that I don’t get much time in between work,” he says.

The show has 27 works in all and is on till March 21.