Two hundred art works in various styles, forms and media — paintings, posters, sculpture, graphic art, typography and photographs, are part of an exhibition, Broadend, at the College of Fine Arts gallery.
Organised by PIPALTri, a collective of faculty members of the three fine arts colleges in Kerala, the participants in the exhibition are 36 teaching faculty members from the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts, Mavelikara and the College of Fine Arts, Thrissur.
Chandran TV, a coordinator of PIPALTri and a professor of art history, states that the effort is to transform the art teacher into an ‘artist teacher’. “There is a gap between students of fine arts and teachers. There is also a divide between what they learn and actual practices in the art world. This exhibition hopes to bridge those gaps and give students and teachers a sense of belonging. It also hopes to motivate students to have a sense of involvement and ownership about their work and practice,” says Chandran who has also displayed his works.
Whispering in a Speechless Moment in watercolour is a landscape with shrouded images gathered in the centre of the painting. Muted shades with a dash of a bold colour here and there capture the mood of the work.
Many of the participants are alumni of the fine arts colleges. It was interesting to trace the evolution of Gipin Varghese from student to academic. Lifetimes, a series of his works in watercolour, portray finely rendered images of people, birds, animals and foliage. Two of his works in the series are from his student days. The refining of his style and use of colours are evident in the series of paintings in no-corrections watercolour, one of the toughest to work in.
Woodcut works by guest lecturer Sagnik Samanta are sharp artistic reflections of the contemporary world. Someone Like Him shows Mahatma Gandhi leading a protest against regressive laws that seek to discriminate. They are shown confronting guardians of law and order; the gravity of the situation is conveyed through the black-and-white piece.
Meanwhile, Flight to Home, an evocative work in watercolour by Narayanankutty K, Principal of the College of Fine Arts, captures the desperation of people, especially men, to reach their homes during the pandemic. Lugging bags and suitcases, the men’s attitude and longing for sanctuary can be seen in their posture.
Even if the walk around the gallery makes you long for a bite, do not reach for the hamburgers on display. Are the untitled works in glazed ceramic by Shan KR a comment on fast food chains? Sandwiched between two buns are the claws of a bird and another has a fish in place of the patties!
Gender blending (portrait of prema) by Sunil Lal TR is a serigraph of a person in a polka dotted bright yellow dress.
Manesha Deva Sarma is a sculptor and farmer. His work Velaedippu (harvest) touches upon man-wild encounters that are making headlines in Kerala.
The title itself refers to the layered expressions in his work. On a jute mat, painted red with brick debris, Manesha depicts the challenges faced by farmers in the high ranges and near forests. Bright yellow pillars, painted using turmeric extract, with K Rail written on them, signify the government acquisition of land — especially agricultural land — which frequently destroys the ecosystem and the lives of the people living off it. A yam branches off into roads, fields and other signs of inhabitation.
“I cultivate yams and wild boars destroy the crops. But one of the reasons why wild animals such as boars, monkeys and elephants are destroying crops is because we have encroached on their environment. Farmers are also caught in a bind when governments and others encroach on their land,” explains Manesha.
Jinan Kottikkal’s Reminiscences, acrylics on canvas, has a group of men engrossed in a game of carroms.
Vinod Kannery Shesham’s work in mixed medium has a delightful play of light and shadow that depicts even the details of thorthu (handwoven towels) and dhothi on a clothesline.
Shajikumar T has put up a series of creative work in Malayalam typography while Charutha Reghunath has put up posters on social issues.
Work in pen, ink and water colour by Prakasan KS highlight the intricacy and finesse of his sketches that are also comments on social mores.
Lincy Samuel’s The Last Leaf, a tribute to one of the famous short stories of O Henry, is water colour in rice paper and collected objects. It is an eye-catching work that also makes a point about the cycle of life.
The organisers hope to make this effort an annual feature and broaden its scope by including the two other fine arts colleges in Kerala.