METRO PLUS

Breaking barriers

Ganesh Babu  

EVEN THOUGH India has a glorious art ethos spanning some thousands of years, somehow this has not successfully seeped into our cultural makeup, and it is still difficult to conjure up a crowd for a painting exhibition. Realising this, Draavidia Art and Performance Gallery, which is housed in a heritage building tucked away in an unenthusiastic colony, decided to take the works of Ganesh Babu, an artist and also coordinator of the gallery, to Caf� de Net.

Sad for a gallery, that claims to be the first professional gallery for contemporary art in the area, Caf� de Net is a small, old-fashioned coffee shop that doubles up as an Internet caf� and now as an art gallery too. Its U.S.P. is that like any other quaint snack bars in Fort Kochi, this one too is well-frequented by foreigners and tourists, a group of people more likely to appreciate, hopefully buy or at least evince interest in an art work. Says Babu, "At Draavidia we play an active role in spreading awareness about contemporary art. We regularly get groups of children to view different styles of art. After all, it is the viewer who has to awaken his sensibilities and strike a conversation with a pictorial form".

Ganesh Babu is a young artist who has no qualms in borrowing freely from art masters and movements, studying them diligently and using them to create his own very eclectic style. Two such schools stand out, one the Bengal School, from where he picked an approach of lively line drawing and a brilliant use of colours; and two, the European masters from where he dug out the very basics of Expressionism as "no artist can ignore these elements or wish them away".

Breaking barriers

Babu has had the opportunity of showing his works in Paris, a city that he keeps going back to. Some of the paintings that he made out there are interesting as they represent, in a sense, the breaking down of national barriers and the globalisation of art and its techniques. Fatigue 2000, acrylic on canvas is a portrayal of a weary music teacher. People in the West live life on the fast track, he tells you. "I was tired just looking at their energy". He records this experience in another canvas titled Moulin Rouge.

Vrindavan, is a poignant rendering of the pitiable condition of Hindu widows who are left to their own devices and become double victims of an uncaring society. Even as they sit with their tonsured heads, draped artlessly in white garbs they are not reduced to maudlin descriptions of a people for whom grief is a way of life. Instead Babu consciously picks warm, bright colours to lend the brutal effects of his subject matter. And that is his accomplishment as a trained colourist.

The exhibition is on till November 30.

SUNANDA KHANNA