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Art for the sake of humanity

The artists with their works Photo: M. Periasamy   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

Art is a medium for social change for artists Sreekumar Mavoor and Jagadeesh Palayat. Sreekumar is a familiar face for people in Kozhikode, as he often takes to the streets to display his works on his pet theme: ‘Women and Children’. Jagadeesh’s canvases portray disconnected dreams and abstract forms of men trying to achieve the unachievable. The Kerala-based artists were in Coimbatore to take part in the Impressionist painting exhibition, organised by Kasthuri Sreenivasan Trust.

The friendship between the two goes back to their college days in Mysore University, where they did the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Jagadeesh says his love for mural paintings took him to Malayala Kalagramam, Mahe, where he evolved both as an artist and human being. “Artist Namboothiri asked us to go to Kalagramam. That turned out to be the most influential year. We were asked to develop a style of our own and not just follow the rules and work within fixed frameworks. We were taught by the greats in the art scene in Kerala. The discussions in the campus did not just stop with art. It used to meander to politics, literature and so on. We were lucky to meet writers such as M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Padmanabhan.”

Both are a part of a bigger collective called Pintorus, with five other painters who have united to pursue ‘Art for the sake of humanity’. It is a group that shares the same world view and humanitarian concerns, says Sreekumar. They use their sketches and exhibits to raise their voice against social evils. For instance, he does not stop with just exhibiting his works, but also puts up charts with slogans against atrocities on women and children. “I am very close to my grandmother. I have many female friends. My wife, my daughters...you can see traces of all these loved ones in my canvas. This is a personal cause for me. I have grown up in Kerala. Even if it is a literate society, its attitude towards women is regressive.”

Both have been involved in direct political activism and have participated in Medha Patkar’s campaigns and worked closely with Baba Amte. They have used their exhibitions to raise funds for the victims of Kashmir conflict. The Medha Patkar rally was the most memorable one. “It was a Gandhi Jayanti rally in Patna. It started on October 2 and finished on the birthday of Jaya Prakash Narayan. All these experiences have shaped the artist in us.”

Through their current exhibition, they are trying to raise funds for the treatment of cancer patients. Sreekumar is hopeful about the outcome. “We are artists and are not wealthy enough to help people with money. All we can do is raise awareness about social issues through our skill. There is humanity in even the most ordinary people. I experience it whenever I exhibit my works on the street. They help me with fixing the charts and canvasses. They just need someone to wake them up and urge them to do something for the society.”

Meet the artists and view their works at Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery. The exhibition is on till December 13. For details, call 0422-2574110.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 4:35:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/keralabased-artists-sreekumar-mavoor-and-jagadeesh-palayat-use-their-work-to-raise-their-voice-against-social-evils/article7971373.ece

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