At the ‘She’ exhibition held at Kochi recently, women artists have their say about different aspects of life
Photos: Some of the participating artists; work by Anu Zafaran, Uthara Remesh and Devu GR. Pics by Albin Mathew
By Shevlin Sebastian
On most days, by habit, artist Anu Zafaran looks out of the window of her 15th floor apartment in Kochi. Sometimes, she sees a blue sky, sometimes it is grey. The sight puts her in a reflective mood. Soon, she turns to her canvas and begins to paint. The resulting works have been displayed at the ‘She’ exhibition which was held at the Kerala History Museum recently.
In one, there is a sad-looking woman with reflective eyes, but with red sensuous lips. In front of her are large banana leaves. At one side there are flower petals, a bird standing still on a leaf, branches, and a silhouette of a woman who seems to be screaming. At the bottom, there is a girl who is looking upwards with curiosity at the pair of women. “I am trying to portray the relationship between nature and people,” she says.
Many people who know Anu told her that the portrait of the sad woman is that of her mother. “I don’t know,” says Anu. “My mother played a very big role in my life, but she died of stomach cancer in 2010. I do miss her. When I was 16, my father also passed away owing to a sudden heart attack. So my mother had a difficult time bringing me up and my brother.”
Anu is also a fan of the late Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Among his novels, she likes ‘Love in the time of cholera’. “That is why there is a lushness in the canvas, apart from the fact that Kerala is lush too,” says Anu.
Young artist Uthara Remesh has a different kind of lushness. Her work, an acrylic on plywood, called ‘The Birth’, from a distance, seems to indicate a woman’s vagina. Red coloured fish is flowing down the channel. On all sides, trees abound along the thighs.
“Every aspect of the painting represents a woman,” says Uthara. “I see myself as a fish, who is flowing through the water. I fell in love with a man when I was painting this. The work represents my feeling of being a complete woman and maybe a subconscious desire to have a child.”
Uthara met Mahin at the RLV College of Music and Fine Arts, at Kochi. After graduating, the pair got married on December 18, 2016. In another work, ‘Hug’, Uthara drew a semi-naked version of herself resting her face against Mahin’s chest, a look of bliss on her face, despite the shut eyes.
“This is a night scene,” says Uthara. “Mahin cares a lot about me and my family. That makes me feel wanted.” She used watercolours, beads, gum and different types of ink.
The works of 21 artists, a mix of established as well as upcoming artists had been on display. Says senior artist O Sundar who came up with the concept, “In the word, ‘She’, there is a He. Just as in a man’s success there is a woman, it is vice versa too. This was a message to the feminists. I feel there is an unnecessary fight between the sexes.”
There are works of varying themes. In Devu GR’s acrylic on canvas, ‘Agony and Ecstasy’, there is an image of cactus plants in a desert against a backdrop of pink coloured clouds. In the middle cactus, there is a bird which has come to peck at the flower called a bromeliad. “The cactus has a lot of thorns and yet it also has a beautiful flower,” says Devu. “Because of the thorns we usually tend to avoid touching the cactus. This is similar to human beings. Somebody may look tough, but if you approach him or her, you might find something sweet in them.”
Young Soumya VN has also painted a sweet image. A girl is lying sideways on a mattress wearing a Kerala-style blouse and skirt. There are a few hibiscus flowers in the four corners. But what is prominent is the mobile phone which is placed next to her. “I wanted to show my connection with the phone, but not in a negative way,” says Soumya, who is doing her third year Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Sree Sankaracharya University at Kalady. “I am staying in the hostel. Thanks to the phone, I am able to stay in touch with my family and friends.”
Sara Hussain, Bindhi Rajagopal, Babita Rajiv, Jiji Ajith, Anju Acharya, Sreeja Pallam, Minimol MN, Reshmi Sreedhar, Meera Krishna, Celin Jacob, Biji KC, Smija Vijayan, Kripa Lalu, Gopika S Nair, Aswathy Rathish, Minnubabu P, and Yamini Mohan