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Tuesday, Nov 16, 2004

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Framing memories

The colours of emotions come through in `The Picture Family', an exhibition of paintings and sculptures

Acrylic on paper by Samir Sarcar

`THE PICTURE Family' is an exhibition of paintings and sculptures, which seeks to explore and express the concept of familial relationships through varied styles and techniques. The works on display are by Alexander Zachariah, Rahul Mukherjee, I. Mali, Sunoj. D, Maya Burman, S.E. Raja, Bharati Jhaver, Aditi Chakravarthy, Seema Varma, Avishek Sen, Samir Sarcar, S. Kumar, Nikhil Pal and Dimpy Krishna Menon.

Familial bonds

The `family portrait' as a format for preserving memories is seen in the works of both Alexander Zachariah and Dimpy Menon. Both artists preserve the picture frame and yet the figures break out of their confining boundaries. Alexander's painted forms in black, grey and sepia tones are formally posed as seen in the photograph albums of yesteryear, replete with the triangular photo mounting corner tabs that keep the pictures in place. Relationships and broken bonds may possibly be read within the fractured plane, where one family portrait consists of four individually framed works hung close together.

In the small bronze sculptures by Dimpy, the exuberance of love and togetherness that exemplify the close-knit family unit surface. Her dynamic use of space justifies the breaking out into the third dimension from the two-dimensional picture frame.

The extent of the differences in style ranges from the simplistic to the elaborate, the realistic to the expressionistic. Nikhil Pal's dark and brooding watercolours picture the customary temperament of a family where multiple layers merge to create ambiguous space and complex feelings. The paintings by I. Mali have a caricaturist bent, certainly an influence from his days as an illustrator. At the other end of the spectrum is the work of S.E. Raja, reminiscent of the academic realism of the famed Ravi Varma.

Samir Sarcar's paintings use the intensity of vermilion, green and orange to create almost mystical relationships among the figures. In one solitary instance in Samir's paintings and in all of Aditi Chakravarthy's works, the `family' as an idea does not translate literally as pertaining to the ordinary man, but extends to the Radha-Krishna theme as well. Aditi's small format paintings with frayed, burned edges lay emphasis on the eyes of the face in the background that is overlaid with a small image of the blue-skinned flute player.

Unadorned feel

The white-on-white embossed works on paper by Sunoj provide an unadorned, antiseptic feel to what is undeniably a complex and vibrantly hued theme. `Love for the Living, Flowers for the Dead' relies on textual content to generate the feel of an elegy. Text however is used more in the manner of embellishment in the work of S. Kumar who seeks to portray relationships and royalty in his `Kingdom' series.

The works are on show at the Apparao Galleries, 7 Wallace Gardens, Third Street, Nungambakkam till November 20.


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