KOCHI: Art has an extraordinary power to capture the essence of cultures, traditions, and the soul of communities. And that is what former irrigation department official Thankachan T A has attempted to do in his art show titled ‘Azure: A Tribute to Kerala’s Fishermen’ at David Hall in Fort Kochi.
The exhibition is akin to an engrossing excursion covering the coastal communities of Kerala. As the title suggests, it offers a glimpse into the lives of fisherfolk, and their stoic spirit. “I am a self-taught artist,” smiles Thankachan as he reflects on his artistic journey.
“I got inspired to take up art after reading a book by renowned artist P L Francis. Born in the coastal village of Elamkunnapuzha in Ernakulam, from a very young age, I have been fascinated by fisherfolk and their techniques. I had an innate desire to portray their day-to-day activities. So, as I started painting, I wanted fishermen to be the central theme.”
Thankachan travelled extensively through Kerala’s coastlines for this project. “I wanted to showcase the grit, grime and subtle beauty of the fisherfolk’s work through my paintings,” he adds. Each piece done in acrylic emanates a distinct aura, a unique story that unfolds through the vivid strokes of the artist’s brush. Thankachan’s attention to detail, such as the fisherfolk’s emotions, is impressive. Gazing at some frames, one can almost feel the salt-laden breeze on their faces and hear the echoes of fishermen’s laughter mingling with the crashing waves.
The paintings capture not just the fishermen’s labour but also their camaraderie and a sense of purpose that comes from their deep-rooted connection with waterbodies. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a striking work that shows a unique fishing technique.
“I was amazed by the method. Elderly women would wade out into the water, and create a kind of vibration as they walk. They have a knack to spot the fish underneath, and catch them with their hands — no hooks or nets,” Thankachan explains.
Adding to the overall vibe of the exhibition, musical bands Voxygen and Metafolks will play live from 6pm to 7pm at David Hall on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The exhibition will conclude on Sunday.