‘Idam’ showcases contemporary art practices of Malayali artists

‘Idam’, at the Durbar Hall Art Centre, a Kochi Muziris Biennale venue in Ernakulam, offers a peek into the contemporary art scene in Kerala

March 13, 2023 10:44 am | Updated 11:42 am IST

Works on show at ‘Idam’ at the Durbar Art Gallery

Works on show at ‘Idam’ at the Durbar Art Gallery | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

A curious web of delicate objects stays suspended in the air. On closer inspection, one sees that they are stuck to the false wall of the gallery with slender, almost invisible needles. Abdulla PA’s strikingly fragile installation is born out of his obsession for collecting random objects. On show at Idam, at Durbar Hall Art Gallery, one of the Kochi Muziris Biennale venues, the work has been drawing attention. 

It is Abdulla’s first KMB showcase. The 26-year-old Bachelor of Fine Arts student from Thrissur says he had always been collecting random objects that caught his fancy in scrap yards and other places. During the lockdown months, he ventured out to the seashore, just three kilometres away from his home in Kaipamangalam, where he found a wealth of objects washed ashore – sea shells, twigs, leaves, curiously shaped seed pods, leaves, woody tendrils and other things. 

Fascinated by their sizes, shapes, colours and textures, he began picking them up, until they grew organically into a collection of natural objects. “These are things we have all seen and played with as children. Things we might completely overlook in their natural surroundings, but putting them together in a gallery space has elevated their value,” he says.

Abdulla’s artistic persistence with material objects is evident in another of his works, The Family Tree Trunk – 14 old metal trunks stacked one on top of the other. While a few of them belonged to his grandparents, the others were collected from friends and neighbours.  “These trunks were like mobile phones of the past. It was a very personal space, containing a person’s intimate belongings, memories, experiences,” he adds. 

Idam is an exclusive show for Malayali artists, curated by Jiji Scaria, Radha Gomathy and P S Jalaja. Showcasing over 200 paintings, installations, digital art and sculptures, the show captures the soul of contemporary art in Kerala today. 

From a meditation on human existence to our complex connections to materials around, the works span a vast canvas of possibilities. Nishad Ummer’s series of photographs capture a man’s journey through cancer – the physical changes, painkiller-induced deliriums. The man died in 2019 and the photographic installation is a visual chronicle of the days leading up to his death.

While Aswathi Prakash’s “female gaze” dwells on her connectedness to immediate surroundings, Sara Husain’s large works are a study of the female body. She paints a naked woman confined to a domestic space, going about her daily chores. For Sara, this is an attempt to rethink her own ambiguous relationship with her body.

Idam is on at Durbar Hall Art Gallery till April.

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