Brush strokes of solitude and hope

Bengaluru-based gallerist Sara Arakkal on the first exhibition of her husband and renowned artist late Yusuf Arakkal in IAF Hyderabad, which will also be his first solo in the city
Paintings from
the exhibition
Paintings from the exhibition

BENGALURU: Whether through a delicate brush stroke or a bold splash of colour, art communicates the unspoken, giving form to feelings that words often fail to capture. It invites viewers to see the world through the artist’s eyes, to experience their joys, sorrows, hopes, and dreams. For late artist Yusuf Arakkal, art was a medium to express the complexities of the human condition like a painting of a child staring at you, evoking a powerful portrayal of innocence and vulnerability.

As the Indian Art Fair debuts in Hyderabad on June 7 with a solo exhibition of Arakkal’s masterpieces, art lovers will have a rare opportunity to step into the Bengaluru artist’s world. “For me, Yusuf was not just my husband but my mentor. He took me to galleries and many other places in India and abroad, cultivating my appreciation for art. That is why I am really excited about his works being showcased in the debut edition of IAF Hyderabad, where he never held a solo show,” says art curator and gallerist Sara Arakkal.

This collection, curated by Sara, features iconic works like those from the Ganga and Discarded series, offering a glimpse into the soul of an artist who found beauty in solitude and humanity. “We had many brainstorming sessions to choose the right works. We finalised a list of works that encapsulates his profound exploration of humanity, which remained the driving force behind his creativity,” says Sara.

Yusuf Arakkal
Yusuf Arakkal

Yusuf Arakkal’s oeuvre is predominantly known for its figurative style, a choice that set him apart when abstraction was the trend. “Yusuf loved humanity in all its splendour,” explains Sara, adding, “While he maintained a wide social circle, and a celebrity status, deep within he was a solitary human being.

He ran away from his native place, Chavakkad in Kerala, as an orphan at the tender age of 16 and reached Bengaluru. There was an element of solitude in him until his last breath, which was reflected in his paintings.” This solitude, however, Sara says, was not about loneliness but a reflective, almost spiritual experience that brought light and hope into his creations.

Sara envisions the exhibition as a mirror reflecting Yusuf Arakkal’s creative oeuvre, aiming to fortify his visibility in contemporary Indian art. “If he had designed the show, it would have been totally different,” she admits. “Since Yusuf’s works are being exhibited in Hyderabad for the first time in a solo show format, I think this will be a turning point, and his art will be discussed in a new light,” she hopes.

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The New Indian Express