Art Houz hosts Kerala-based artists at the For Space exhibition
Photo-realistic human figures, often of the same person, separated by a phone passcode that reads ‘Emotion’ are central to the works of artist Nijesh Mohan, while nature represented as plants, birds and animals are always placed alongside people in the paintings of Pradeep Unni. At the 12-day exhibition hosted by Art Houz titled For Space, the observer is invited to witness the clamour for space, a phenomenon that is both internal and external — with fellow human beings and nature. Strikingly similar in terms of their composition — realistic elements surrounded by surrealism — the exhibition is part of a collaboration between these two Kerala-based artists.
“When you think of a concept like space, it can be understood in myriad different ways, which is how Pradeep and I have interpreted it,” says 36-year-old Nijesh. A keen observer of behaviour, Pradeep Unni draws inspiration from similarities in human and animal characteristics. His paintings revolve around the idea of the growing conflict for space between nature and humankind. “The principal thought behind the series is for the audience to introspect on the question ‘What is the price of the modernisation and development that I am enjoying?’ We are blissfully ignorant of the lives that are affected,” explains Pradeep.
Best known for the use of red and black with the occasional hint of warm shades like orange and green through his paintings, the Pallakad-born artist attempts to give the viewer a peek into a life fraught with depression, disturbance and intolerance with each frame. Using acrylic on canvas, the artist says the texture of the paintings is smooth, as they best represent the elements of realism.
The need for emotional room is how Thrissur-born Nijesh understands the idea of space. On display are 11 paintings, mostly acrylic and oil on canvas, which allows for multiple layers and textures. Each image highlights a gateway or ‘pass-code’ that prevents the exchange of negative emotions or thoughts between individuals. “It is a constant endeavour of us humans, in an attempt to self-heal and preserve, to create new pass-codes to prevent being chained to unwanted thoughts. These pass-codes also prevent the absolute transparency of emotions between people. After all, we all have dual personalities within us,” he explains. Set against textured abstract backgrounds in rich vibrant colours, Nijesh relies on the use of figurative images as the focal point of his paintings.
Having first met while working for a design company in Guruvayur in 1998, it was Pradeep and Nijesh’s love for painting that got them conversing. After a series of commissioned works, the two decided to quit their jobs and become full-time artists. With 17 years of working together between them, the duo has helped each other with developing styles and techniques. “Working together means we have a common thread — it could be in terms of style or even the theme,” shares Pradeep.
The exhibition, comprising 21 paintings, will be on display at Art Houz until November 6. 11 am to 7 pm. Details: 4335777