Titled "In Spirit with Nature", the three dozen paintings depict tribal folks living a happy and contented existence in densely-forested areas of his State.
Kerala-based artist K. G. Babu, whose close proximity to indigenous tribal folks has helped him in depicting their extraordinary relationship with nature, is hosting a solo exhibition at NIV Art Centre here beginning this Saturday.
Titled “In Spirit with Nature”, the three dozen paintings depict tribal folks living a happy and contented existence in densely-forested areas of his State. The artist, who lived in a house on a forest’s edge, has enlarged the eyes of tribal folks making them look like humanoid species from James Cameron’s science fiction film Avatar.
According to Babu, a self-confessed lover of tribal culture, his paintings basically portray how the tribal folks lead their day-to-day lives in thick forest cover of his coastal State.
“As my house was located on the edge of a forest, I used to observe tribal folks’ behaviour and mannerisms, particularly their relationship with nature. Though they are illiterate, they know how to remain in harmony with nature. They are keen to preserve the rich forest cover which provides them shelter, food and clothing. They cannot tolerate city dwellers who want to destroy the forests for their selfish gains. This will bring an end to their way of life and destroy the forest which they respect.”
Asserting that the tribal folks lead a perfect life, Babu says they revere the nature and get so much happiness and satisfaction in return. “The tribal folks lead a lifestyle which is typically their own. However, there original culture is getting diluted. City dwellers have managed to destroy their lives. Fortunately there are some pockets in Kerala where the tribal folks are leading their lives just like their forefathers used to in the past Century. Their knowledge is limited but their experience of living in the forest day in and day out has taught them a number of things. So in some ways, they are more knowledgeable than city dwellers.”
Explaining the modus operandi of the artist, curator Tanya Abraham says he first captures tribals on his portable camera and then derives inspiration from their images. “The pictures become a sort of guidelines for him. He used his artistic liberty to enlarge their eyes or juxtaposes them with nature.”
Noting that Babu has lived in the heart of Kerala’s lush tropics most of his life, Tanya says he used to draw energy from the forest bordering his home. “It has transformed him and enriched his art. However, Babu left this enriching, soothing environment for Dubai. But the environment in a big city did not appeal to him. His heart always remained close to the sound of birds, animals and the rustle of leaves. Babu eventually decided to settle down in a small town in Kerala. Here he discovered and rediscovered the beauty of life.”
When Babu associated himself with tribals, he saw in them the spirit of nature. “There was no separation. They lived as one. One for the other, giving and talking, which is so intricately woven together. A part of Babu is urban, modern, with new thinking practices and means to find excitement. But when he paints, he feels what the tribals feel, he embraces what they give.”