Art is in the air

Kochi’s art scene has woken up from a long pandemic-induced slumber. The maiden instalment of Kochi Art Week, which started on December 12, features a slew of local artists

author_img Krishna P S Published :  21st December 2021 09:48 PM   |   Published :   |  21st December 2021 09:48 PM

Kochi’s art scene has woken up from a long pandemic-induced slumber. The maiden instalment of Kochi Art Week, which started on December 12, features a slew of local artists

KOCHI: Private galleries and the Kochi Biennale Foundation have joined hands to put together a series of exhibitions and shows under the Kochi Art Week being held in 11 galleries across Kochi. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry and the prime locations for the exhibitions that observe and narrate a series of themes — personal, socio-political and pandemic. Pepper House in Mattancherry is the main venue. 

At Gallery OED in Mattanchery, Dibin Thilakan’s solo exhibition ‘Bonds of Lineage-Dots n Anecdotes’ with pastel-shade paintings provide a glimpse into our collective past. Director of OED galley, Dilip Narayan says “It was a bold step to conduct an art week. But this will help restart the art scene in our city. We have been open since March, but the art week has helped us momentum and brought back art discussions into the spotlight once again.” ‘When attitudes become form-1969’, is another group show being held at the OED Gallery.

A tribute to Jangarh Singh Shyam, a pioneering artist and founder of a new school of Indian art called ‘Jangarh Kalam’, has been laid out at Dezika Tribal Art Gallery. The group exhibition titled ‘Tribe, Life and Forest -Legacy of Jangarh Singh Shyam’ features intimate images from the tribal culture.  Lakshmi Madhavan’s ‘See Saw Seen’ exhibited at the Kashi Art Cafe depicts life nowadays — isolation, migration, surveillance, freedom, and other influences on it. With eyes that stare back at you, the restless, occasionally moving images draw you into them.    

Lives of forest-dwellers by Sathyapal

Sathyapal’s artworks follow the marginalised section in our society. In his new series, he is exploring the lives and the rich culture of tribal communities from Madhya Pradesh, where the artist spent a considerable amount of time intermittently from 1998. With figures resembling the art of ancient men, he paints a picture of the tribe’s rough life.

His solo exhibition ‘Wheeling on Borderlines’ at David Hall in Fort Kochi is vibrant with colours and symbolism. The paintings expose how the lives of many are constantly controlled by others.  Every character in his painting has been given wheels. They travel, talk and go about their daily lives, while permanently attached to the wheels. 

“Human, birds, animals, fishes — no one really has free will in this world. It is like they need to be pushed around to move. It can be the caste system, the government, or the corporate,” says the eminent artist, who was the former Chairman and Secretary of Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy. 

Another frame depicts a story from a tribal community — a tale of a crane and a fish. The hunter and the perpetual victim. “I have been travelling since 1998. I used to live with tribals in forests. You cannot depict them as normal characters. You need a distinct style to encapsulate all the emotions they have,” he says. His paintings have unbridled surrealism and many layers of symbolism. “Since 2003, my paintings have had a distinct style,” he adds.While portraying tribals, his frames have a rough base. He uses mortar to achieve this feat. After drawing subjects, he pours mortar into the canvas. He then carves and dries it, then paints over to finish the artwork. 

Official festivities concluded on December 19
Exhibitions to continue till January 12