THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Deeply rooted in the quotidian life of the tribal village of Ambukuthi in Wayanad, Sunil Laal’s brush strokes contemplate the habits and musings of the rustic people in a countryside. Titled ‘Re-visit’, the painting exhibition on at the Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan here portrays reality sans decorative extravaganza. Substantiating the title, the characters in his paintings in numerous shades on acrylic, are manifestations of people who embrace a traditional living even while plodding through the realms of modernity.
Underlining a stark contrast between the sophisticated and rustic reality in ‘It’s party time’ and ‘A chit chat on laundry’, Sunil says, “undeterred by the modern lifestyle which has made inroads into the life of the tribal people, they still exist in groups. A typical characteristic in the modern way of life, the concept of nuclear family, is yet to make a mark in their being.” As the former depicts revelers engaged in pretentious ways of merry-making, the latter simply translates the humble conversation of the group in a laundry during the small break after hours of hard work.
Even the lives of tribal people are not bound to strictures of any kind. In one of his artistic rendering, two tribal women sit in a verandah and enjoy an inebriating drink. Explains Sunil, “Gender parity has always existed among tribal communities. Even in matters like drinking, no restriction is placed upon them in the name of gender divide. It also underscores the feminine attitude and their strengths.”
The tribal imagery is judiciously portrayed on the canvas to bring out some interesting trends seen in society. His latest work, done in 2011, ‘The lady’s store pals’, is a witty take on the fashion consciousness of men in society.
“In my observation, certain traits of the opposite gender are innate in both men and women. Many beauty products marketed these days are found having versions for women as well as men. That trait is visualised through these paintings” he opines. The masculine inclination towards eyeliner, ear-rings, nail enamel and trinkets are wonderfully portrayed in this work of art.
‘Environment of Santhiniketan’ a series on Sunil’s observations on the Santhal community of West Bengal during his education at the Viswa Bharati University are also made subjects for his compositions.
“Tribal people in any part of the world are linked through a similar chord. Despite differences in clothing and language, their customs and traditions resemble one another,” Sunil says. The photographs of his paintings in the ‘Krishna and Gopika’ series hold a bucolic charm as they too are vitalised through the tribal image. The exhibition will conclude on Friday. Timing: 10.30 am to 6.30 pm.