Art

COVID 19: Kochi artist paints a picture of an affected country every day in solidarity

Sujit’s first painting - the US

Sujit’s first painting - the US  

Kochi-based Sujit Sudhi creates a water colour painting each day as a tribute to countries affected by COVID-19

Chicago-based IT professional and artist Sujit Sudhi, who hails from Kochi, was due to return to the US, where he works, when he fell sick. By the time he recovered, the lockdown in India had begun. With airports closed, his journey has been indefinitely postponed. “Each time I stand at an immigration counter, I wonder about boundaries and how they are imposed. And now look... COVID-19 has proven that there are no boundaries. All of us are affected,” Sujit says.

In a show of solidarity with the world, Sujit is now painting landscapes of countries currently battling COVID-19: the United Kingdom, the US, Iran, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, China, France and Germany among others.

A challenge

This series of 24 paintings, of which 13 are done, demanded that he step out of his comfort zone as an artist. If earlier he shot a scene with his camera or sketched a view, this time he does not have the help of either. “I didn’t want to draw expected, iconic sights. For instance, Paris would inevitably mean the Eiffel Tower, but instead I painted a landscape that expresses the essence of the country. This was more restrictive.”

His Iran shows a mountain, Sabalan, from one of its famed mountain ranges; the UK is represented by a barge moored by the Thames and so on. He intends to wrap up the series with India. Sujit has exhibited in Kochi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Goa and Pune and has also been part of shows in the US.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom  

“Artists — across genres — have responded to COVID-19 in different ways. I choose to draw beautiful, pleasing landscapes,” he adds. The works demand that he do his research online before he paints, research which inevitably includes keeping track of Coronavirus updates. “The process of painting these is deeply meditative,” he says.

The sky in each work is different: some have rolling clouds, others are dark and thunderous... “It is said that the sky is integral to a landscape, they are the ‘eye of the landscape’. They are representative of the situation in the country. While in some the sky is clearing, in others it is not... but there is always that glimmer of hope,” he says.

Italy

Italy  

Sujit started painting a day after the lockdown, and completes a watercolour every day. He posted his first painting, representative of the US — a lighthouse by the sea — on his Facebook page on March 28, tagging family and friends from the artist community in the US.

Each subsequent painting is accompanied by a brief note of encouragement; for instance he exhorts Iran with “Iran - it’s time to show the world your valour! Let’s win this battle together.”

Iran

Iran  

Foreseeing a shortage of material, he had ordered online before the lockdown, but it wasn’t delivered to him in time. So now, he is painting on canvases that are 11x7.5 inches, which are half the size of the canvases he usually uses. “This means I will have supplies to last me twice the number of days. As it stands now I have enough water colour paper to last me a little more than a month but I am running out of paint,” he says.

If stores don’t open and online delivery continues to be a challenge, he plans to complete his work with pencil or pen. After all, he says, “Colour is just a fancy robe you throw on top of a sturdy structure built on pencil.”

His works can be seen on Instagram (@sujit.sudhi)

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:29:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/kochi-water-colourist-sujit-sudhi-tribute-to-countries-affected-by-covid-19/article31289679.ece

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