J.M.S. Mani and P. Perumal’s works bring to light the everyday lives of people in villages

Rustic, realistic and abundant with tales; Artworld Sarala’s Art Centre is celebrating its 49th anniversary through a series of exhibitions. Currently on display are paintings of village life and the people that make them by artists J.M.S Mani and P. Perumal.

Vibrant colours spring to life in Mani’s art. The subjects are all painted in great detail, and yet preserve their anonymity. None of them have eyes and in some oil paintings, the faces too are blurry. Inanimate objects that seem irrelevant but add to the character of the paintings, like bananas and umbrellas (in some cases, kites) recur in many of them.

Mani’s paintings have a lot going on, even if they focus on one man or a woman sitting down and looking away. They capture the person from different angles, moving and adding more detail to match the view. A woman sits at her shop and looks into the frame. She wears a ghoonghat on her head. A basket of flowers overflows with strung garlands while others hang, glowing with colour, in the background. A dozen bananas hang beside them. She wears purple flowers in her hair and a blue pendant with colourful beads on either side, around her neck.

The man in white stands out with his bleeding-red turban and chocolate-coloured skin. He is watching a flock of roosters. A few fruits and bananas lie around. The same kind of people feature in this series but there are some subtle differences. In some an umbrella hangs from the man’s hand, or there are kites about him. The woman is wearing different coloured clothes or another necklace, or the background is another shade of mouldy yellow, with a little crevice for a window.

P. Perumal’s paintings on the other hand, tell stories of rural life. The paintings are styled like tribal art and depict how people in villages go about their work. A woman in white, with dark, short hair stands with her cow. A black crow is settled comfortably on one of the cow’s horns. One can make out trees in the background. Another shows men and women walking home at dusk, carrying bundles and baskets.

There are other large canvasses that include entire villages. These portray vivid pictures of festivities. In one, the whole village is celebrating by beating drums and dancing. In another, the men are fighting with bulls or with one another. There is a lot of blood. In some, the women and men wash vessels, clothes and bathe in a pond with lotuses. In another women are carrying basketfuls of fish on their heads.

The exhibition is on till March 31 at Artworld Sarala’s Art Centre, 1/12, Ganeshpuram 3rd Street, Teynampet.