K. SUDHEESH Kumar's thematic and formal concerns are demonstrated to advantage in a suite of watercolours currently on display at Kashi Art Café. His childhood, spent in Polour, a remote village near Kozhikode, was defined by an unmatched serenity where the humdrum of daily living was punctuated by grandma's story-telling sessions, some cheery, others chilling. For his paintings, Sudheesh, 33, draws inspiration from this source material; deftly translating the readymade anthology of folklore into a pictorial narrative.
As his mind's eye surveys the large repertoire before him, it is the more disturbing ones that he opts for. Monumental Stone of Love, watercolour oil pastel, is the story of two lovers who were mercilessly killed because they belonged to different castes; the tombstones near his parental house where in the dead of night spirits would lurk around, waiting for a chance to talk to him. Ironically, even as they terrified him as a child, it is in these myths that a young man finds an anchor, stabilizing him against the winds of change that threaten the untailored lifestyle.
Moored in a simple, carefree existence he essays to form a tangible relationship with the outside world, fumbling as he goes about doing this.
His themes do not unfold in a straightforward manner; esoteric and complex they beg interpretation. What is the cat doing in the foreground of Monumental? Is it a cryptic symbolism of how life goes on as significant happenings are pushed out of public memory? Even as that may be so, the artist takes it upon himself to reinvigorate past events and therein lies the substance of his oeuvre.
What is striking in his projects is the perfect dwelling that his compositions provide for his stories. There's a marked division of the surface into bands, so that actions are played out in a way that is easy on the eye. There are tracts of vacant spaces that provide an aesthetic relief.
Above all, Sudheesh is a refined colourist. Colour is at the heart of his painting and even though his colour palette is free of symbolism, it is the fruit of considerable study.
Watercolour is a spontaneous, irreversible art medium, emitting a simple beauty that is endearing. Sudheesh strayed into it after a series of oils that he has done in the past.
He is currently working as an art teacher at the S. K. Pottekkat School of Fine Arts, Puthiyara, Kozhikode.
The exhibition closes on January 24.
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