Naozar and Siloo Daruwalla have kept everything that they could – associated with their friend and artist Yusuf Arakkal – close to their heart. Apart from his works, there are also catalogues and posters of the shows the late artist had with their gallery, Crimson. And together, they evoke nostalgia.
A poster announcing his exhibition ‘Faces! Faces! Faces!’ in 1993 reminds the viewer of the time when Crimson used to be situated in Safina Plaza or an oil from 1982 when the artist used to sign differently as A Yusuf. He later changed it to Yusuf Arakkal.
On the opening day of ‘A Tribute to Yusuf Arakkal’, an initiative by Naozar’s www.yepart.com, he “in Yusuf’s spirit of giving’, gave away a few beautifully produced old brochures, catalogues and posters to the guests. ‘Yusuf Arakkal: The Man And The Artist’ was also launched by P Sudhakaran, art critic, curator and journalist.
“The show was long due from us. We were his gallery before his wife Sara started Galerie Sara Arakkal,” recalls Naozar. Crimson hosted around six shows of Arakkal starting 1990 onwards – on different subjects and in various mediums. “His first show at the gallery was his ‘King’ series. He did ‘Faces’ in 1993, a series on homeless people living in pipes, the ‘Chair’ series and a few others for his shows at Crimson but no work from any of these series are part of the show. I didn’t want it to become a retrospective but give glimpses from his artistic career.”
A leading contemporary artist, Arakkal passed away in October 2016. Born into a royal family in Chavakkad in Kerala, he ran away from home and rose up in life through hard work and perseverance. The poverty and pain of his struggle of those days crept into his canvases. Dark brooding images of people from the lower strata of society often took the centre stage in his work. In this show, the viewer will find a variety in 24 works – paintings, drawings, prints, a sculpture in wood and another in mixed media on wood, displayed at the gallery.
- Yusuf Arakkal was adept at printmaking as well and made prints as well
- He formally learnt art at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (CKP) and also trained under Jaya Varma, a descendant of Raja Ravi Varma
- His last exhibition was a series of portraits of contemporary artists
“His work was always abstract. It was just that he never abstracted the human figure. And even when he was making these stark paintings, he wouldn’t forget to depict hope as well through his play of light. He used the chiaroscuro technique brilliantly. A lot of artists say that they ‘think’. Everybody thinks then what makes that one artist so special? It is when he or she brings out experiences and emotions from deep inside and portrays them. And that's what Arakkal did, otherwise who would paint a piece of a broken terracotta at one corner of a painting.”
The show is on at Crimson, Hatworks Boulevard, Cunnigham Road, till March 22