KOCHI: ‘A journey through the world of art’ reads like a grandiose title for an exhibition. But walk into the majestic David Hall Gallery and Cafe in Fort Kochi and it is immediately apparent why the artist came up with the name. Lining the walls of the middle gallery are 36x48 inch acrylic portraits of renowned masters of art right from Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci to Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Raja Ravi Varma and the more recent M F Husain. With his latest solo show, painter, filmmaker, art director and designer Ambili has paid homage to his inspirations across ages and artistic genres by not only recreating their likeness but also their most known works.
The hall to the right is populated with frames covered in vibrant hues. Walking by them, one realises that Ambili’s artistic style is a confluence of all the masters that greet you at the entrance. “The viewer can notice the influence of realism, abstraction, cubism, impressionism and surrealism in my works. The exhibition is sort of a culmination of my artistic journey,” says Ambili who has 124 paintings on display.
A recurrent motif in his work is cinema, a love he has nurtured all his life by not only making films but by writing scripts for movies, designing posters and heading the art direction. In an untitled painting, the artist has tipped his hat to the iconic French director Georges Melies, father of Indian cinema Dadasaheb Phalke, first Malayam movie director J C Daniel and his heroine P K Rosy. Ambili’s preoccupation with films is also reflected in his early sketches of Malayalam actresses, many of which are done with the dot painting technique.
The female form features prominently in Ambili’s works. Apart from his portraits of Srividya and Sharmila Tagore which he created referencing a small black and white picture of the actress he chanced upon in 1971; the artist is conscious of highlighting the hurdles faced by the fairer sex. “Women are often subjects of the male gaze and objectified. This is evident in films as well,” says Ambili. A prolific artist who has worked with multiple mediums over the years, Ambili is adept in working with watercolours and oil paints. The exhibition will conclude on March 15.