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Sarika Poornanand's works reflect her short training with Anjolie Ela Menon

Sarika Poornanand's 14 canvases on show at Kashi Art Café, Fort Kochi, clearly show the influence of her short but impressionable tenure under Anjolie Ela Menon. Her figures in form and in the subtle merge of colours are imprints of her illustrious mentor but it is undeniable that Sarika stands her very own ground in the paintings. The 31-year-old artist displays a maturity far beyond her painting years.

Guru-shishya style

Having completed her art studies from Delhi College of Arts and then worked under Menon in the guru shishya programme of Spic Macay, Sarika taught art at the Cathedral School for a good two years. But teaching left her with no time to paint. A conscious choice to be back to the canvas saw her hold a successful solo exhibition in Mumbai. Meanwhile her settling down as a homemaker, her long periods of isolation when her naval husband was out at sea, her blossoming motherhood all find expressions in her present show. Most of the paintings are in pairs, though "quite unconsciously" the artist tells you. Two mugs, two pairs of feet, two goats, a couple all point to her newfound companionship. Matrimony was to give her the new perspective. Relationship, warm, fulfilling and wholesome added a fullness to form, composition and colours. Sarika reveals that her earlier works had a certain sense of isolation and loneliness, the periods when her spouse was sailing. The birth of her daughter livened up the canvases further. Colours make a marked entry. Dark red for passion is used generously. The human form, especially the male form, is better defined, says the confident artist, drawing from her experiences. Marriage and motherhood meld into the paintings, imparting a sense of fulfilment, a realisation of joys unknown. Of her brief apprenticeship under Menon, Sarika says that her style has seeped into her works quite unconsciously. "Anjali Ela Menon was never like a teacher. She would guide gently and make suggestions. In fact it is her personality, the artist as a human being, that I wanted to imbibe." And it is definitely that that has seeped in. Sarika too through her works comes across as a sensitive human being responding to the changing world, presently to her own little world of mother and child, of husband and wife. The only canvas that is a social comment is Helena and Cleo, (a pair), which is on the excessive emphasis on skin-deep beauty in today's world. A recurrent image in the works is the goat, "gentle-eyed and submissive." For the artist the goat has been an attraction since the very beginning. Perhaps the animal roamed the hilly tracts of the valleys of Dehradun from where Sarika hails. "It was always a part of my sketches but somewhere in the background.

Goat imagery

Now it has taken centre stage and is right in the fore front of the paintings," says the artist. In `The Youngling', a woman caressing and hugging a goat-kid is suggestive of the satisfaction of motherhood. Two goats looking lovingly at each other symbolise a new relationship in `Greenhorns'. In `Woman 1' and `II', the figures look inwards in deep monologue. The canvases are medium size and the technique is of thin application of paint. The subtle play of colours offset with deep reds and greens make each frame visually appealing, something that Sarika consciously strives for. She says that at the start, all art should be visually appealing before it leads you to higher things.Prices range from Rs.5,000 onwards and the show is on till April 1. PRIYADERSHINI S.

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