Here's a glimpse at exhibition 'Ganga', featuring artworks of Yusuf Arakkal and his son Shibu Arakkal, in Bengaluru

The exhibition features 12 photographs by Shibu Arakkal and six paintings by Yusuf Arakkal
In Frame: A photograph from the series 'Mallaah' by Shibu Arakkal
In Frame: A photograph from the series 'Mallaah' by Shibu Arakkal

In India, the river Ganga is of great importance. For ages, it has been a source of spiritual solace and cultural cohesion to millions. Inspired, Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation recently presented the exhibition Ganga at Manini Sadan in Bengaluru, which featured 12 photographs by Shibu Arakkal and six paintings by Yusuf Arakkal themed around the river. We talk to curator Gitanjali Maini to find out more. Excerpts:

Tell us a bit about Ganga.

The exhibition featured a compelling juxtaposition of mediums, with Yusuf's textured paintings and Shibu's photographic works, both drawing inspiration from the sacred river Ganga and the lives of those connected to it.

What was the theme of the exhibition and what inspired it?

The theme of Ganga revolves around the profound cultural and spiritual significance of the river Ganga in India. The exhibition explores philosophical and personal truths through the artistic journey of Yusuf and Shibu Arakkal. Inspired by their presence along the river and the lives of the mallaah, the boatmen who navigate its waters, the series delves into the deep-rooted connections and sociological complexities of these men who have dedicated their lives to the Ganga.

What factors had you kept in mind before curating these artworks?

In curating Ganga, the primary focus was to maintain a realism that is both authentic and poetic. The curatorial effort aimed to reflect the intersection of Yusuf Arakkal's influence and Shibu Arakkal's own artistic evolution, ensuring that the exhibition stays true to the philosophical explorations and personal truths that inspired the artworks. The realism portrayed in the artworks was intended to evoke the deep connection between the boatmen and the river, capturing their stark reality and unique experiences.

In Frame: Ganga by Yusuf Arakkal
In Frame: Ganga by Yusuf Arakkal

Can you take us through the mediums and techniques used in the artworks?

Yusuf Arakkal's paintings are known for their evocative and textured nature, delving into the human condition with expressive and poetic imagery. In contrast, Shibu Arakkal's works engage in photographic realism and abstraction. His series Mallaah captures the lives of the boatmen through his lens, creating a stark and compelling narrative that reflects the sociological and cultural complexities of their existence. The exhibition thus presents a striking contrast between the expressive canvas works of Yusuf Arakkal and the realistic photographic series by Shibu Arakkal, offering a rich and varied visual experience.

What are the colours that dictate the palette of the majority of paintings?

Yusuf's works are of a more sombre palate with emphasis on muted tones. He primarily favoured darker colour slike brown, ochre, black and similar shades.

Can you tell us about three of the most interesting artworks displayed?

The entire series follows the thematic exploration of Ganga. Shibu's work explores the lives of the people who work on this river, while Yusuf's work explores the depth and sanctity of this river and its symbolism to India and its people.

What can we expect from Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation or Gallery G next?

The foundation and the gallery will soon showcase a one of its kind group show that will open to public in mid July.

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