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Touched by perfection

THE 32ND State Exhibition of Art, 2003, is different. Till last year the procedure for State level competition demanded that the entries be brought either to Thrissur or Ernakulam. Because this time art works could be accepted at any of the State galleries, the Akademi was inundated with fresh, creative talent. In all, 361 artists submitted their works and there were 782 creations to cull from - a record of sorts. The jury picked 120 paintings and the Durbar Hall Gallery; their current venue is choc-a-bloc with art works. There is a diversity of styles, themes and media with a couple of sculptures thrown in for good measure. The occasion was celebratory more so because the city got an artists studio, a smart annex behind the main building. Besides, all the sculptures that were produced at the granite camp organised by the Akademi a couple of months ago, found their permanent home in the open surroundings of the gallery.

In the past Bini Roy has worked for TABITA, an NGO for promoting Cambodian artists. She brings her insight into the nuances of this Asian society in her canvas titled, Three Widows. Pathetic and poignant are the cheerless faces of these hapless women who clutch on to the stem of a lotus with dear life. The lotus, an integral part of Buddhist philosophy has implicit references to hope. The scorching yellow in the background says Bini suggests the burning loneliness that rages within them. In Creation of a New Humanity, a study of tribal life by young Sajith Puthukkalavattom illustrates a ravaged woman, her hair in disarray and face contorted in misery and whose youth is evident only from the bright pinafore that she dons. Sajith's use of warm colours and impeccable technique adds to the pathos that bathes the canvas.

This year the V. Sankara Menon Endowment Gold Medal has been awarded to Balakrishnan E. K. for his untitled oil painting. The treatment of paint is soft and comforting so that the stirrings of thick forests and the crusade of a waterfall are silenced and the emergent emotion is one of stillness and quietude. Mannequins in Male City II, is an oil on canvas by C. S. Jayaram. Women, clothed in all their finery are trussed up on hangars, occupying space with posters that scream out lowest prices and doormats for sale. In keeping with the theme, Jayaram's choice of colours is fiery and inviting.

What is appealing about a group exhibition is that each artist brings his own vocabulary of ideas and techniques. Awash in strident blue is Train from the Past a 118 x 140 cm large canvas by K. Sudheesh Kumar. As a train roles past in the background freedom fighters, political leaders like Nehru and Gandhi watch in despair at the plight of modern day India. A platform peopled with the subaltern, beggars, lame and blind with children out to make a living composes the foreground and makes a compelling statement.

No exhibition on Kerala shores can be complete without a mural. It is represented here by a graceful rendition of Goddess Saraswati done by noted mural artist, K. K. Warrier.


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