Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Assaults in modern life

P. Surendran's exhibition highlights the devastation of nature and the violent experiences of women

By Shevlin Sebastian

In P. Surendran's acrylic on canvas, there is a black bull, with its head bent aggressively. Standing in its path is a man who resembles the common man. Just beneath the bull is a fox. On the right side is a priest staring at what is happening. A woman has been drawn upside down. A few youths look on in a daze. It seems that they are disparate elements, having no link with each other.

“Not so,” says Surendran. “The bull resembles the stock exchange. There is now an obsession in making money. The priest at the side indicates the mix of religion and politics in society. The fox is an indication of how people need to be cunning, in order to survive. And the inverted lady is to show the deplorable status of women, faced with constant violence meted out by man.”

Surendran shows other forms of assault. A tree with flowing green leaves has some branches chopped off. Those parts have been marked in red. A human head placed in the trunk of a tree indicates the role played by man in ravaging nature. Another painting is that of a tree with several leafless branches. But all the crows are stationed on the ground. A similar canvas shows a tiny sparrow, sitting on a single tree, with buildings on all sides.

“The situation is become grave,” says Surendran. “So many structures are coming up. Kerala is becoming like a concrete jungle. Soon, the birds and sparrows will vanish. Man is thinking only about his habitation, and oblivious of the damage to nature.”

Thus, it is no surprise that the exhibition is called 'Assault on women and nature'. In an untitled work, Surendran has shown a woman who has been beheaded, the head placed at one side. “I read about such an incident in the papers recently,” says Surendran. “It disturbed me a lot.” The case was of a man, Rineesh, riding pillion behind his paramour, Sreelatha, on a scooter one night at Kadavantha, Kochi. He sliced her throat from behind with a kitchen knife.

Another composition is of a map which shows several countries, with camels in certain areas. In other sections, there is a mosque, a church and a temple. Right in the middle is the figure of Jesus Christ. “Malayalis have gone to so many countries including the Gulf,” he says. “The camels and mosques represent Dubai and other places. People are also settled in America, a Christian country, represented by Jesus Christ.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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