KOCHI: City’s involvement with art is relatively good. With numerous art and cultural spots in and around the city, people here are able to savour art. One will at least stop by and spend time appreciating the beauty of Kanayi Kunhiraman’s sculpture at Shanghumugham or the art work on the city walls at Palayam. But art exhibitions rarely get the viewership that a film festival or carnival at Putharikandom ground attract.
Though art is considered a part of our life, the myths associated with it have made it an esoteric subject and keeping many away from it. People consider art as something that can be only found in the galleries.
“Art is like a person sitting with you in a room. But the presence is oblivious to many,” says culture critic, art curator and writer Johny M L. He is the critic in-residence of the Loka Malayali Chithrakala Camp organised by Lalithakala Akademi at Kanakakunnu.
What if the Arteria paintings drawn at Palayam were whitewashed one fine morning? Those who have been seeing it on a daily basis while travelling in a bus or auto will definitely miss it. That is the role art plays in one’s life, says Johny.Yet there could be people who do not care about the presence or absence of the paintings on the walls. For them the need for art comes last in their list of priorities. “Art has a spiritual value. It is high time the government realised it and made suitable policies,” says Johny.
It needs an early intervention to start learning to appreciate art in one’s life. According to Johny, art should be part of the school curriculum. Endearing art to public needs good readable content on the topic. “Lack of good literature is a major hindrance. There is a need for good art critics,” he says.
There was a time when people used to attend exhibitions or concerts based on the writing of the critics. Writings of K P Padmanabhan Thampi in 1950’s were particularly influential. Works of E M J Venniyoor helped readers understand a great deal about the celebrated artists Raja Ravi Varma. Seventeen renowned artists living in India and abroad are attending the painting camp. Some of the known names are Akkitham Narayanan ,B D Dathan, Achuthan Kudallur, Ajayakumar, Biny Roy, Damodaran K, G Rajendran, Josh P S, T Kaladharan, Lal K, N K P Muthukoya, Mohandas N N, N N Rimson, O P Parameswaran, K K Rajappan, Sidharathan, Vatsaraj K P. Johny who has been tracking the indivdual styles of these artists will prepare a book on the history of their process. The paintings drawn during the camp will be exhibited at Durbar Hall Kochi later this year.