KOCHI: Four years ago, advertising professional Narayanan Mohanan decided to shift from digital visual art into the world of fine arts. This was driven by a single thought: his belief that art had the power to influence and make a difference in the world. So, when friend and fellow artist Bindhi Rajagopal decided to hold an exhibition in Kochi titled ‘Oradimannu’, Narayanan did not hesitate. His one-inch teacup and saucer installation, which has been made using tea powder, metal paste and soil bemoans the lack of freedom of expression in today’s society.
“I have focused on the Chai Pe Charcha campaign that was held by the government. Nowadays, whenever I am trying to express something over tea, I think of the Chai Pe Charcha.... and Mahatma Gandhi’s fight for freedom for our land,” said Narayanan.The installation comprises of an upturned metal plate as the base. A saucer and cup filled with sand and using metal paste are a unique addition. A question mark representing Gandhiji’s famed spectacles and the bald head has been decorated using tea powder.
The soil for the installation was collected from Narayanan’s hometown of Kollam. “The government has used the Chai Pe Charcha campaign to win the hearts of the people. However, we have many victims whose freedom of expression has been curbed. I think it was all a facade,” says Narayanan.The work has been receiving good feedback. According to Narayanan, an American cartoonist had shared the image of his work on an international platform. “I think unique representations such as these get noticed because it has a message. I have always believed that art should be activism at its best,” said Narayanan.
Most of Narayanan’s works have been works of protest including the Juvenile Job Cards, an installation, which was exhibted at the All Lights International Film Festival at Ramoji Film City, ‘We can’t be Mummies’ installation, 100 per cent Off on Hats of Intolerance..?’ among others. The ‘Avishkaaram Prathirodham’ was an installation of icecubes and a fight against fascist forces.