Small wonders in black and white

Miniature world Joby Ravindran with one of his works

Miniature world Joby Ravindran with one of his works   | Photo Credit: Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

Joby Ravindran’s miniatures, on show at Eka Art Gallery, Fort Kochi, wonderfully catch the nostalgia of his native Palakkad

Picture a miniature world, a starkly etched reality in black and white. This is what up and coming artist Joby Ravindran has on offer at the Eka Art Gallery, near Kunnumpuram Junction in Fort Kochi.

The exhibition which is on till November 15 has on display paintings-landscapes and portraits- in the miniature. Says V.B. Venu, a co-owner of the gallery, “This is the seventh exhibition being hosted at Eka. We have had many prominent artists exhibiting their work here. However, it’s always been in our plans to encourage new artists. . And Joby is an exceptional talent whose every work speaks of his calibre.” There is no doubting the talent that has sketched and drawn the paintings housed at the gallery. In fact, Joby’s work in dry pastels was selected to be exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Lalithakala Academy in 2007 and 2008.

Pastoral life

While the artist’s favourite media are acrylic, charcoal and water colours, this exhibition features mostly miniatures in charcoal, acrylic and ink alone. As the works displayed would indicate, he favours scenes from everyday country life and the influence of his native Palakkad is especially strong.

The slices of pastoral life that have caught his eye and begged to be translated to the canvas (miniature, that too) seems ordinary and mundane. His skills however elevate it to the extraordinary and interesting. The black and white of the drawings invite viewers to partake in the melodrama of the ordinary, to revel in the scenes that is part nostalgic, part brooding and a tad despairing. The charcoal sketch of a man walking along a country lane (returning home, perhaps, after a long day of labour) is especially poignant rendered as it is in black and white.

With the exception of a few pieces, all others have been done in 8 X 13 cms canvas. The only two large paintings are diametrically opposite in character. While one paints a picture of human civilisation crouching like a hungry beast on the edge of a water body (depicting Kochi), the other is a beautiful and soothing village scenery with people unhurriedly going about their work and chickens scratching away at food (reminiscent of Palakkad). The couple of portraits featured pay tribute to the artist’s father.

The most astonishing fact is that though wide open and huge spaces have been etched onto minimal space, one’s enjoyment of it remains as large as life. Neither the essence nor the spatial reality has been lost in the transfer. Joby says, “Whether large or small, the size does not diminish the importance of the painting. It’s how you bring your views and the sights that you have seen to the canvas that’s important. It was not a conscious plan to eschew the use of colour, but as for the miniatures, it was the works of K.C.S. Panicker that inspired me and gave me the courage to follow that route.”

There is a lesson to be learned here. It’s that…small is beautiful!


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