Monday, July 09, 2012

A close-up look at life

Upcoming and seasoned artists give their perceptions at an exhibition at the David Hall, Fort Kochi 

Photos: 'She' by Radha Gomaty; 'The Lost Mother' by C.B. Bahuleyan, and an untitled painting by Abhilash Unni 

By Shevlin Sebastian

At the art exhibition at David Hall, Fort Kochi, one is taken aback by Radha Gomathy's 'She'. It shows a naked woman, with ripe breasts, sitting cross-legged and holding a white lotus in her right hand. On the left palm she is holding a decapitated shaven head. The eyes are closed and the lips are thick and sensuous. Where her head is supposed to be, there are three jets of blood shooting upwards and then turning in a semi circle and falling sideways. At the back, there is a white crescent moon. The mood is sombre and gripping.

“This is based on the image of Chinna Maasta,” says Radha. She is one of ten Tantric goddesses and represents a ferocious aspect of the Divine Mother Devi. “The head is a symbol of removing the ego,” says Radha. “Not a drop of blood is wasted. One stream goes directly to the head. The others go into the ground where it becomes whorls of energy. The blue walls also radiate energy.”

After drawing the image, Radha felt that it conveyed an image of violence. So, to soften the impact, she drew the lotus and moon. “The moon is a representation of the mind, while the lotus indicates calm and peace,” she says.
Artist C.B. Bahuleyan has done an acrylic on canvas called 'The Lost Mother'. It shows a whitewashed wall and, in the middle, there is a splotch of blood and a line rolling down. At the bottom, there are a couple of decaying leaves. On the left side, a small plant is growing.

“The inspiration is personal,” he says. “My mother, a powerful personality, has stayed out of touch for the past three years. She is travelling to holy places like Kashi and Varanasi. The reason for the blood is that my mother has caused me pain. The leaves indicate that there is a possibility of a fertilisation process taking place. Maybe, my relationship with my mother will get better.”

Abhilash Unni's acrylic on canvas looks simple. It is a series of houses with asbestos roofs, one placed on top of the other. The light shines through the windows, while in a hole in a nearby tree, there is a symbol of a trishul. “There is a deeper meaning to this,” says Abhilash. “I just wanted to show how the Dalits suffer from a perpetual shortage of land and they have to live crammed together. There is no space for Dalits in the political, financial and cultural spheres.”

He says that even though Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the Father of the Nation, he pushed back the cause of the Dalits by refusing to support the community's demand, as propagated by their leader B.R. Ambedkar, to support a separate electorate for them, during the British era. Gandhi said that it would lead to the disintegration of Hindu society. “That impact is felt even now,” says Abhilash, a Dalit.

G. Prathapan has done a painting which portrays a group of women, using a coracle (small lightweight boat), as a shade and mending their fishing nets, while sitting on an island that is shaped like a cone. “These are women from Bengal and Assam ,” he says. “Their whole life is a journey traveling from place to place, collecting and selling fish. On the way, marriages take place and children are born.” Once while traveling over a bridge, near the Le Meridien hotel, Kochi, he saw this sight and was inspired to paint it.

Sanal has drawn a picture of three men, with dramatic hairstyles, with black, blue, and red skins, and wearing striking jerseys. The unity of man despite colour and racial differences seems to be the message.
The other artists who have put up their paintings include Balamuralikrishnan, Purushottam Adve, Sunil Vallarpadam, Manoj Vyloor, Srikumari, Norman Tagore, Rajesh Ambalkar, Cynthia Prabhakar, Deepak Khandelawal, Shyama, Vishaka Apte and Wilfred K.P.
“The paintings have been produced at different art camps
 at Swaswara and Spice Village resorts and the Casino Hotel itself – and sponsored by CGH Earth,” says curator Padmini Krishnan.

(The New Indian Express, Kochi) 

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