Of tradition and individual talent
If you thought mural paintings are just frescos that depict gods, myths and legends in myriad hues, adorning the walls of temples, Ochre, an exhibition of mural paintings on at Durbar Hall, gives you a different idea. They take a non-conventional course while adhering to originality and tradition.
The works by four artists - Arun Gopal, Ratheesh Chelamattom, Sreejesh Damodar and Shigil Narayanan - are a tribute to diverse images and stories that whetted their aesthetics rather than ‘copy works’ of enormous divine images that represents the typical Kerala mural paintings.
Arun Gopal’s ‘Balyakalasakhi’ (the mural representation of Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s magnum opus by the same name) is an assortment of 12 works that traces the various events in the story. Majeed and Suhara are seen in various postures which bring out the romance, passionate love and the poignant end of their relationship.
“This was one work that influenced me always. I aimed to pay a tribute to the masterpiece of Basheer while deliberately deviating from what murals were always identified with,” says Arun.
Painted in acrylic, the works exhibited here speak of novelty, not without the aesthetic richness and opulence of murals.
Besides ‘Balakalasakhi’, Arun Gopal’s works explore myriad images of nature and its various elements. Striking are his works ‘Mask’, that implies man’s continuous quest to don a mask to conceal his true personality.
“We have put in conceited efforts to introduce a new path in mural painting without compromising on its originally and traditional form,” says Ratheesh Chelamattom. His works are an adaptation of M T Vasudevan Nair’s ‘Randamoozham’ and play ‘Chayamukhi’ by Prasanth Narayanan. The works titled ‘Balandhara’ portrays the characters Bheema, Hidumbi and Draupadi in various moods, exchanging amorous glances. The works capture the characters in all their splendour, implying how the present day man has a confused and insatiable ‘Bheema’ in them. A loner Draupadi also appears in various images.
Shijil Narayanan’s works has an underlying amorousness in them. The characters emit sexuality, albeit with a rhythm.
Interspersed among the novel frames stand the traditional form of divine images. The mural paintings of Lord Ganapathy, Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva in Pradosham are also displayed. Arun Gopal’s ‘Kudamkoothu’, a traditional art form, is also a reminder of the traditional feel of the art form.
Sreejesh Damodar has focused on events and the crowd that associates with it. ‘Gandharvavivaham’ and ‘kulikkadavu’, done on huge canvas, portrays the traditional crowds. Another strikingly novel work of Sreejesh is ‘Elanjitharamelam’, a work on Thrissur Pooram, an image embedded in our minds for long.
The 85-odd works exhibited includes myths and legends - ‘Nishidhini’, an image of a nocturnal goddess, Krishna and Radha in their intimate moment, and Menaka enticing Viswamitran through her lovely dance moves.
The team, who is behind restoring various mural paintings that have corroded over the years, says the trend of bringing murals on small canvas has helped revive the age-old art form.
The exhibition which is on from 11 am to 7 pm will run through Monday.