Art

Kerala artist E H Pushkin’s exhibition of drawings shows how art is an egalitarian refuge in a polarised society

Artist EH Pushkin

Artist EH Pushkin   | Photo Credit: Harikumar J S

‘Sign Here’, an ongoing exhibition of over 40 drawings at Suryakanti Art Gallery in Thiruvananthapuram, drives home the point using minimal strokes

An abstract portraiture of a “fallen” human head bears the weight of what appears to be a boulder. Titled ‘Sign In Refugees’, the drawing, done with an evocative adherence to minimalism, is meant to signify what has become of man today.

“The amorphous dark object denotes burdens and concerns, such as misconceptions, misleading beliefs and even our identity, that are imposed on us right from birth,” says artist E H Pushkin. “We don’t realise that we don’t need most of these,” he adds.

A painting by EH Pushkin

A painting by EH Pushkin   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘Sign Here’, Pushkin’s ongoing exhibition of over 40 drawings at Suryakanti Art Gallery, drives home the point in minimal strokes. There are no superfluous embellishments, no forced commitment to employ garish colours to capture the attention. Rather, the thrust is on the message and the subtext, which are delivered to be pointed, best embodied in the technique employed. In fact, Pushkin trades the brush for ink pen to create his subjects in this series of works chiefly on an expressionistic style, while resorting to the use of water colours only to breathe further life into them.

“A principal reason why I have used a fountain pen for the works is that it allows me the freedom to select the type of ink depending on its colour and consistency to suit a particular drawing. Also, I wanted the strokes to be sharp,” says Pushkin, adding that he has used “Indian-made” ink for its thickness.

A painting by EH Pushkin

A painting by EH Pushkin   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘Sign Here’ comprises works the artist produced in a span of three months, from November last year to January. Pushkin says the title for the collection is meant as “an exhortation to people to come and subscribe to the idea of art”, which in his opinion is “a secular, accommodative refuge for all.” He wants to demonstrate how art possesses more than enough room to show “compassion” for every being.

Pushkin says one of the pieces, titled ‘Sign Here 4’ in the series, sort of proved prescient for him. It depicts an abstract human head face down on bare ground, blood dripping from a wound on the forehead. “It was drawn two months ago to highlight a sense of anxiety and tensions pervading in the current society. Soon enough, we started hearing about the riots,” says Pushkin, a resident of Kattakkada.

A painting by EH Pushkin

A painting by EH Pushkin   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Another work, categorically titled ‘You Can Seek Refuge in Art’, is “an expression of the power of art.” It depicts a radius-topped entranceway bearing a conical object. “It signifies the door of art that always remains open and lets in all without any discrimination. The horn-like component is representative of art’s own defence for self-protection. It can also be construed as a peaceful weapon and a weapon for peace,” explains Pushkin, alluding to the instances of muzzling the right to free speech and expression.

Despite a predominantly abstract style, Pushkin finds ample scope to pay his obseisance to Nature and its significance and indispensability. Like in the work ‘Sign Here 5’ that shows a tree in full leaf casting its shadow on the ground. “Our existence inextricably depends on Nature and hence protecting the ecology is one way of protecting ourselves.” Pointing to the dim shadow illustrated on the piece, he says “that’s where our space is.”

‘Sign Here’ is on at Suryakanti Art Gallery, Mangalam lane, Sasthamangalam till March 14. Timing: 11 am to 6 pm. Contact: 0471-2723802

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:32:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/kerala-artist-e-h-pushkins-exhibition-of-drawings-shows-how-art-is-an-egalitarian-refuge-in-a-polarised-society/article30989581.ece

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