The omnipresent tree
THE CITY'S Durbar Hall Art Centre is agog with activity. There are three exhibitions on concurrently, with a few more in the pipeline. One of them belongs to Unni Shankar, a reputed artist of the State, who last showcased his collection at Mumbai's Nehru Centre. His series, entitled Samvadam Samyogam exemplifies a meeting or conversation between the myriad species of nature, connecting them with an unbreakable bond.
Shankar paints in a classical surrealistic style. His figures are elongated, stretched beyond any shade of realism and sheathed in a sinuous line drawing. So lithe are the bodies that they strike strange gymnastic poses with their unending limbs, twisting and bending to reach out to a flower bud, a bird or even to each other. The crook is such that it takes a trained eye to disentangle the many forms. His drawing is unfettered; a line as free flowing yet so controlled comes only by a strong technical expertise. It is this deftness, which imparts a grace and refinement to all his figures. The animal kingdom lives in perfect harmony with plant life; there's an effortlessness with which they bestow and seize from one another. The tree never escapes the artist's attention. It is there, omnipresent, ensuring that all is well in Shankar's world. Herein, the ecosystem is well preserved, in quiet accord.
The artist calls his display an exhibition of interior art. Some of the frames are computer printouts, a utility regularly used by architects and interior decorators. Shankar makes his pictures with a rotary ink pen, an engineering designing tool. He then scans it, so that he can get a size of his choice, which is normally large. The added benefits being that it is a far more cost-effective besides being less time consuming.
His drawings are in black and white with just one in colour, a Shiva-Ganesh duo, thrown in. Even here it is the monochrome green, which takes precedence over all others. Shiva takes on the shape of an elephant in order to be one with his son, assuming the role of a playmate and provider. In this iconography the tree gains legitimacy, a canopy protecting even the Gods as it weaves its branches through the matted hairs of Shiva.
Shankar has made a relief work on cement mural. While thematically close to his line drawings, he has coated his mural with copper paint. It lends it a metallic tone. The artist has also done cement murals in Veegaland, Kochi. Pizza Hut in Muscat has used his talent, where Shankar has made mural paintings of Bollywood actors and actresses. Muscat is also where the artist is based.
The exhibition was on till October 20.
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