Tracing our roots

Humans with tree legs, paintings that dive into the lives and biases of our land, bodies made of jute and found objects, and many more are part of this exhibition 
Photos: Vincent Pulickal
Photos: Vincent Pulickal

Working people is the subject of the young sculptor, Sumitha O K. Human bodies of various sizes carry twigs on their heads, hold babies, chitchat, walk to the market and engage in many more mundane and laborious activities. 

However, tree trunks replace their legs.

It is a reflection of how humans coexist with nature, says Sumitha. The postgraduate from RLV College in Thripunithura has beautifully represented this unification and how man is rooted in land. The grand sculpture display is one of the eye-opening exhibits featured in the ongoing exhibition From Where All That Sweat at the newly-opened Amuseum Gallery of Modern Art in Vellayambalam. 

Under the soft and dreamier sepia lights, the works of young artists from across the country have come alive. The gallery is an initiative of Amuseum Art Science, a non-profit trust based in the capital city. In the opening exhibition, 28 young artists are participating with some of their prominent creations.
Installations, paintings and sculptures fill the seven halls of the gallery. Each room is curated to deliver different emotions. 

The artworks speak of historical, social, political and geographical traces of our culture, where spectators are provided with a space to introspect. The curator Niranjana Surendran says the artists are not sympathising with subjects, display their memories connected with the land and life. “These young artists have been selected as they come from diverse cultures, class, caste, gender backgrounds and geographical locations. The show aims to focus on the relationship between the land and human body by tracing class-caste-religious power plays,” says Niranjana.

The opening paintings are of artist Sumeshan K. His works Pottakinar, The Man With Book and the untitled mystical painting are about his ancestors and their lives. On large canvases, he crafts new languages, opening up old, indigenous secrets using charcoal, pastel and acrylic. 

“These are my creations that explore my roots. The works are part of the painting series titled Korathi and Comrade, my solo exhibition which was part of a scholarship programme of Kerala Lalithakala Akademi. I believe charcoal is a half-burn material and apt for my subject to portray the rustic landscapes and humans,” says the art teacher working in his hometown. His works feature Brahmanical practices, norms and inherent casteism.  

Exploring the eco-friendly elements through an installation is Thiruvananthapuram-native artist, Rejani S R. Her work a 12 feet human figure laying on the ground is made using the quintessential Rejani style, using found objects and jute. “I am always curious about natural substances. I prefer experimenting with art using multiple mediums, especially eco-friendly materials,” she says.

Other works
Silk thread weaved in various patterns on pine wood by Baroda-based artist Kanan Koteshwar, watercolour on handmade cotton rag and a banana paper titled ‘Tell Tales’ by Thiruvananthapuram-based Savithri K C, ink and graphite drawing ‘Burden’ by Baroda-based artist Magesh R’, batik prints with natural indigo titled ‘Lets Cut The Crap’ by Kochi-based artist Sreeju Radhakrishnan, and the splendid artworks by Rumki Bhaumik and paintings of Baraiya Raju Kumar are some of the other thought-provoking exhibits displayed at this national exhibition.

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