KOCHI: Two years ago, the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, along with the District Tourism Promotion Council, had brought together artists to convert Kozhikode city into a city of sculptures. These sculptures now adorn Kozhikode beach and have become landmarks for many years to come. This year, the Akademi has done it again by bringing together senior old school artists for the National Artists Camp.
The camp, which commenced on May 23 at Sea Queen Hotel, has 12 artists, some of them who can be called the pioneers of modern Indian art. Achuthan Kudallur, Ajayakumar, Alex Mathew, Azis T M, R B Bhaskaran, Laxma Goud, Rajan M Krishnan and Santhosh T V have come together to create wonders on canvas.
Achuthan Kudallur, one of the senior-most artists at the camp, who has found his comfort in painting, says, “I will be disappointed if someone finds a particular figure or shape in this work.” Kudallur most known for his abstract works is also instrumental in showing the world that the abstract school of India is quite vibrant.
Ajay Kumar’s painting of a huge medieval ship does not evoke one’s curiosity in the beginning. He explains: “The ship looks like it’s coming towards us.” Ajay Kumar’s fascination for ships started only recently when he realised the effort and the marvelous mathematical precision that go into making one.
Alex Mathews’ ‘Alone in the Crowd’ in charcoal captures the loneliness of people. Alex, who hails from Kerala, studied art from College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram. On a deeper look into the image, between a typical Indian crowd one can see men and women clad in a burqa. The expression of each dark figure on the canvas speaks volumes about the lives led by them.
R B Bhaskaran is one of those pioneers of art movements in India who rebelled against the concept of ‘Nativism’ propagated by K C S Panicker. Bhaskaran’s painting depicts life and death. Speaking about the changes that have come about in the way a common man approaches art, he says, “The public here have not questioned why these sculptures were installed on the beach, which is quite refreshing. Art should live with the people.”
C F John, another Malayali artist, who has left early after finishing his painting, ‘Life Continuum’, says, “I have depicted all forms of life in the painting. The painting shows everything that surrounds us and how we are connected to everything.” John was selected by BBC Radio 3 as one among the 12 international artists whose individual approaches have led to innovation in the art field.
Rajan Krishnan has a penchant for painting the positive side of existence. The painting he was working on when ‘City Express’ approached him was about the hopes of migratory birds. “The migratory birds start from some corner of the world, without knowing what is there in store for them at the destination. They come in search of water and sustenance, with a hope and expectation that there will be water. The painting shows that they have finally found water,” he elaborates.
Jyothi Kumar’s charcoal sketch captures a very surreal image of floating people and structures on an ocean-like vastness. Jyoti Kumar, who took a break from painting for nearly 10 years, says that charcoal is his preferred medium. An artist, who entered the art scene in the 80’s, he has been to plenty of art shows across the country, the latest being the one that held at Fort Kochi.
Francis Kodenkandath has something unique to showcase. His painting is a guidebook on how to make paper boats, named ‘An application for the patent of a paper boat.’ The painting is a fight against patents, he says. “Too many things are patented today. Some of the things we use daily like ‘Neem’ and other medicinal plants are patented today. Even the paper boats are part of origami. What if one fine day someone patents it?,” he asks.
K Laxma Goud, who is one of the most versatile Indian artists, presents a simple and straightforward painting, devoid of all the complexities a common man associates with an artist. A traditional Indian woman decked up in jewellery is looking out from his work.
Kozhikode’s very own Prabhakaran K, taking cue from the geography of the city, has painted the life of people living in the coastal area. D L N Reddy, a renowned artist from Andhra Pradesh, has touched upon the subject of eroticism in a contemporary style. “I have painted the sea as well. In fact, a lot of what goes on the land happens in the sea as well. Like the crimes related to eroticism,” Reddy says.
T V Santhosh’s painting strikingly stands out from the crowd of stunning paintings displayed in the camp. The artist known for his works that tackle global issues such as war and terrorism, takes a dark subject and paints it in black and white.
Azis T M’s work of a lonely little boy, probably depicting the loneliness of today’s children, has an eerie feel to it. He is known for the introduction of fluid elements in painting. Hailing from Kerala, Aziz completed his BFA from the College of Fine Arts and his master’s from Jamia Milia Islamia.
The artists had an opportunity to have a tete-e-tete with writer M T Vasudevan Nair on Tuesday. The Artists camp came to an end on Wednesday.