You see a man with a blank expression on his face, and a few small huts in the background. There is a girl with a similar look on her face, in another painting. The common expression is a sense of isolation with which the villagers live their lives.

According to artist Ashok Chincholi from Gulbarga, it is a mixture of isolation but strange contentment.

“Villagers remain cocooned in their own little world. They know that they can find a better means of living if they move to a city, yet many remain in their villages due to a fear of the unknown,” Ashok explains.

Ordinary village folk and animals are the subjects of his paintings, 12 of which are on display at Art Houz, an art gallery at Jenney’s Residency on Avanashi Road.

You catch a painting of a village ceremony, and a big outstretched hand, seemingly blessing the gathering. The hand is that of a village elder, who is normally called on to preside over all functions. Most paintings are in a red background, which is the artist’s favourite colour.

His “My Town” series portrays the confusion faced by a young boy. The boy is pondering over his future in education. His face is perplexed and there are stacks of books in the background to indicate that confusion. Then there are the animals which are part of village life. There is a horse, a dog and cows in a shed, and their activities sketched on paper.

A life so simple

“It is the simplicity of village life that makes it so fascinating,” Ashok says.

For Narayan .S. Kumbar, it is realistic and abstract paintings that find favour. The “My Traditional Series” shows Lord Shiva and Parvathi, in a warm embrace and exudes a feeling of serenity. There is a majestic elephant, adorned with jewellery and accessories, moving merrily across the land. But it is the realistic paintings that are the most vivid. A sadhu, his forehead smeared with ash and wearing a saffron turban, has an intense, mesmeric gaze. In the next painting, the sadhu’s face is obscured by a black background. “The original sadhus are becoming increasingly hard to find. Very soon, they may not even exist in paintings,” says Narayan.

Narayan has also modernised the image of Kali Maa. His acrylic on canvas painting has the Goddess in male form, the strong hands displaying enormous strength.

‘Shanthi’ has a man with three heads in a meditative pose. There is a silhouette of Mahatma Gandhi in the background. “The three heads depict the three monkeys of Gandhi, which see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. These principles are more relevant than ever today,” he says.

Paintings of the two artists are also available for sale and range in price between Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 37,000.

The exhibition is on till December 10.

For details call 0422-4335777.