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The simple life

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Art Subin Abraham’s collection of paintings is a tribute to life in villages and to nature

Subin Abraham’s frames take us on a journey; a journey through the villages of South India. The frames are arresting as the greens from the foliage merge with the browns of the rustic landscape. The paintings titled ‘While walking through the soil…’, exhibited at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, is Subin’s ode to the simple life in villages.

His ode begins right from the first painting at the entrance of the art gallery. The frame in question depicts a road dotted by greenery. A woman with a basket balanced on her head walks by the side of the road. As the road turns around a bend, one is curious to know where the road leads to. The question seems to be answered in the next frame – a row of houses in a village. The streets are however, empty. Life in the village springs to life in a painting which zooms into a house and its courtyard. A woman is standing by the threshold of her home as a cow happily grazes by its shed nearby. Another painting has farmers tilling the field. Most of Subin’s frames are heavily tinged with shades of green. That nature remains pristine and untouched in the villages is the highlight of his works.

Scenes in a fishing community are also explored by the artist, an alumnus of Fine Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram. Subin’s paint brush brings to life the lives of people residing by the sea. If one frame has rainbow-coloured fishing boats lined up along the shoreline, another has men mending their fishing nets.

The vibrant frames from the village and fishing community come as a stark contrast to Subin’s paintings depicting life in a city. While people in the former group of paintings look content, those who move to the city in search of greener pastures seem dull and lifeless. This is especially highlighted in a frame portraying a family sitting huddled together on a street. The grey backdrop comes as a striking contrast to a painting of farmers selling their harvest at the market. The artist says he has travelled through the villages of South India for inspiration. “I enjoy travelling and nature has always inspired me. Villagers are more welcoming of strangers. The fact is captured in a painting of a woman standing by her kitchen door with a tentative smile on her face. All the villagers I met had a welcoming smile. They were curious to know who the stranger in their village was. The villages and places that have inspired me are written below the paintings.”

The only frame in Subin’s collection of paintings, which seems a tad out of place is one which has a family posing for a portrait. It is the elder daughter’s first communion ceremony. Dressed in white, she is holding a candle. Her parents and grandmother stand beside her. The girl’s mother is carrying her younger sister. Says Subin: “This picture is based on a photograph a friend of mine gave me. It is of his brother who died a few days after the photograph was taken. The brother wanted me to replicate it in paint. As I was tied up with other work, I could not do it. The brother, however, passed away recently and I felt indebted to fulfil his wish.”

The paintings will be exhibited until December 8.

Liza George

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