How often do we notice the lesser significant details of our lives? The herd of goats that prance around the temple pond, the hoardings with advertisements screaming through the sky and the tame cow that stares into the silence of the dust-laden summer days are probably sights that don’t even deserve a second glance.
Painting the streets of Indian cities like Chennai, Varanasi, Madurai, Hyderabad and Kolkata, Karunakaran’s brush explores routine spectacles. Every painting in this exhibition depicts a known sight and it is that familiarity that draws you to the world that you encounter every day. As if by magic, you begin to notice things you overlooked.
Combining the views that we are accustomed to with a few landmarks from across India, the artist takes the audience on a trip where streets have no name, paints a sea of humanity soaked in spirituality and gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of the working class.
Capturing every city in its character, the artist conjures up a vivid display. The Hyderabad-based artist’s works are not entirely realistic, but tread the rope that somewhere links realism and abstraction.
The distinctiveness of Karunakaran’s works is his approach toward the mundane. Bright colours offer a stark contrast against the faded walls of a busy street, presenting the simple paradoxes of life.
Multiple lines of yellow autorickshaws, a toiling tongawallah and a woman labourer smiling through her woes—the tenderness of simplicity is a binding factor that runs consistently through the familiar portraits. Highlighting the nondescript elements, Karunakaran’s works elevates the unpretentious and grounds with an innocence.
(The exhibition is on till April 10 at Vinnyasa Premier Art Galery, 21/11, CIT Colony, Mylapore).