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Artistic togetherness

The Progressive Artists' Group is bound together by a love for art. PRIYADARSSHINI SHARMA takes a look at their works.

ART FROM THE HEART: Odds and art unite this group in their endeavours.

WITH ART shows, art exhibitions and art workshops dotting the event calendar, the year and the city have witnessed an unfolding art scene that is bursting with energy and ideas. So infectious are these new, bold strokes in the local art world that it has propelled 27 painters to come together and display their works in a unique way. The Association of Progressive Artists of Kochi, as the group calls itself, is a loose-knit collective of talent in art and related worlds. "What perhaps binds us together is the struggle we face to get recognition," says V.B Venu, a well-known painter and the brain behind this open-air art show, near Nehru Park, by the seaside, in Fort Kochi.

Unique display

"Yes, the display setting is unique. An exhibition in an art gallery is not possible for many of us and to exhibit in the open air, in a public place, will give us maximum visibility," explains Venu, referred to as `Master' by the group.

United solely by a passion for art, most from the group are full time painters struggling to make a place for themselves in this field. " We are all serious painters, driven by just pure love for art, but unfortunately have not arrived, perhaps because of lack of proper display and interaction with the public. Besides financial constraints have always come in the way. There are good concepts but it all requires correct promotion." Venu elucidates.

Two from the group, Sanal Antony and Sunil Rocky, who are Venu's students, are art teachers in local schools. T.A. Nasar, who dabbles in painting posters, sign boards, Kerala landscapes and has his works on display, says, " Foreign tourists like to buy Kerala paintings, so I do Kathakali scenes, theyyam, backwaters, for them." But at the show, Nasar has put up three thematically different works. A pale underwater scene, inspired probably from the deep blue surrounding sea, is his latest work.

Different genres

Paintings by Vijay Prakash, a retired NGO, Abdulreb, V.U. Madhu, who runs a small art gallery, Heritage Arts, Biju Kumar, an established name, Arun, Jayesh, Shihab and many others have put together this colourful show. Says 20- year-old, Binesh, a student of computer graphics at Aptech and who is a keen painter of portraits, " I wanted to be a part of this forum and here I am doing mainly portraits and caricatures." Binesh is often seen sitting under the famed raintree that cover the easels, sketching an eager customer's portrait in pencil.

Revelling in artistic license but guarded nevertheless, the group in unison believe that the show is not for the sole purpose of selling art. " We have put all this together to show the public the kind of work that is possible." Says V.U. Madhu. " To exhibit at Durbar Hall requires up to Rs.1,000 a day. Besides, painters recognised by the Akademi get preference. You have to be at least a diploma holder in art. There is a procedure to be followed. Many of us are self-taught painters and have no formal training in art.

"As Fort Kochi is a place frequented by tourists, they are our main buyers. Many of us are commissioned to do a scene or a subject. Established painters don't like to be commissioned for work, but we don't mind," says Madhu and explains that the bargaining habit, a fallout of tourism, is a dampening factor.

And so the 64 canvases on display, a few on the easel in the open air, make a colourful collection in oils, acrylics, caricatures with interesting backdrops, themes, social comment, abstract and landscapes.

The easel here is indeed set on fire by the enthusiasm of a group trying to come to their own.

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