Art

Artist Venu Kotheril’s second coming with his new collection of paintings

Venu Kotheril

Venu Kotheril   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

‘Transcending hues’, his collection of paintings in oils and acrylics, signalled the resurrection of an artist taking up the brush after a long interval of nearly 30 years

When Venu Kotheril woke up from his nearly three-decade-long creative and artistic hibernation, the world around him had changed considerably. Nevertheless, that change has not completely hampered his bold strokes or his burst of amorphous shapes in oils and acrylics on canvas and paper.

‘Archaic Dreams’, his last exhibition in 1990 at the then House of Soviet Culture in Thiruvananthapuram, has a soothing palette with the dominant shade being blue. One of the untitled works in oil from that collection, in a pleasing melange of pastels, leads the way to a new collection of works, ‘Transcending hues’, in which shades of brown and orange give way to swirls and swathes of green and blue. “I had not painted for more than 25 years and had completely moved away from colours and canvas. A series of mishaps caught me unawares and I was caught in the affairs of the mundane and I felt that the artist in me had been erased. However, my friend and well-wisher G Sreekumar never gave up on me. Unobtrusively, gently, he brought me back into the artistic community by making me a part of MV Devan Kalagramam, Pallimon, Kollam,” says the soft-spoken Venu.

A work in oils from Venu Kotheril’s collection ‘Transcending hues’, which was exhibited in Thiruvananthapuram

A work in oils from Venu Kotheril’s collection ‘Transcending hues’, which was exhibited in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The artist agrees that his second coming as an artist has been deeply influenced by his work as a curator at the Kalagramam. “It is inevitable. We are all influenced by what we see around us and when I started painting again, I took time to rediscover my style,” he says.

Nebulous shapes vaguely resembling various images of everyday life seem to tease the viewer’s imagination even as those shapes seem to dissolve or flow to create new experiences for the viewer. “I was inspired by conch shells, butterfly pea flowers (Shangupushpam) and paper boats. The fascination with conch shells continue. I feel their presence when I paint,” he explains.

In a new light

The conch shells acquire a new dimension and structure in his work as he sees them through his creative lens. His angst, anger, apprehension, confusion, empathy and unconventional outlook are expressed in the striking slashes of colour and shapes that fill his canvas. It is as if the artist is trying to make his way through the murky world to find his space and his mode of expression. Venu’s inner conflicts are reflected in his works. Poetry, he says, inspires him and he adds that like a poet struggles to find the apt word to capture his feelings, Venu strives to express his poetry in colours and shapes and it is a struggle until he finds one that best captures his visual verses. Perhaps, it is serene meditative pauses that find expression in contours in shades of green and white punctuated with blue.

A work in oils from Venu Kotheril’s collection ‘Transcending hues’, which was exhibited in Thiruvananthapuram

A work in oils from Venu Kotheril’s collection ‘Transcending hues’, which was exhibited in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

While many of his new works are in oil, a few smaller ones in size are acrylics on paper and canvas. Filled with an exuberance and vitality, the acrylics are a collage of frenetic strokes that hint at the artist’s spontaneous outpouring of creative expressions in paint. Over the last two years, Venu has painted more than 200 works and he hopes to have another exhibition of some more of his creations.

A work in oils from Venu Kotheril’s collection ‘Transcending hues’, which was exhibited in Thiruvananthapuram

A work in oils from Venu Kotheril’s collection ‘Transcending hues’, which was exhibited in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Also included in the exhibits are some of his drawings in pen and ink. Fluid, confident lines depict the young artist, a product of the College of Fine Arts, at his peak. However, in a fit of disenchantment, he decided to walk away from it all and travelled to different places in India in search of a greater meaning. Once he returned to his home in Kollam, his turmoil resulted in him separating himself from art, his lifeline.

The resurrection of the artist was evident during the exhibition at the Lalitakala Akademi gallery in Thiruvananthapuram.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:34:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/artist-venu-kotheril-takes-up-the-brush-after-30-years/article30988100.ece

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