THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On canvas, Babu Namboodiri’s characters appear in bright colours. Whereas his counterpart Joseph Mathew is in an attempt to make the black colour create a positive impression upon the connoisseurs.
The exhibition of paintings of the two artists at the Lalitakala Akademi Gallery at Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan reflects varied aspects on men and nature. If an assortment of colours is the highlight of Namboodiri’s paintings, Joseph delights the viewer with an optical illusion of bright colours. On display are ten oil paintings of Babu Namboodiri K and six works of Joseph Mathew in water colour.
An art teacher by profession, Namboodiri considers art a serious affair. His works are mainly rooted in his experiences he had in life and the sights and scenes that earned his attention. He always believes that ‘man is an extension of nature’ and this aspect has crept into his works also. In his paintings, one might find a man with thick foliage of a tree as his head or a man whose body resembling the wooden trunk.
His tryst with the fashion world at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Bhopal too has turned subjects for some works. For instance, the painting where a sculpture of Nagaraja with a fashion model standing adjacent to it falls in this category. “Here, the change of times is represented through two figures. Though the figure of the serpentine god alone was intended to be drawn initially, the model somehow got into the frame when it was finished,” he points out. In ‘burning desire’, his encounter with figure studies is brought on canvas. He has arranged well the face of a man, the posterior of a woman and a burning candle to communicate the intensity of carnal desires. His perception of the outerworld during his life in Bhopal is seen in ‘onlookers’. The scenes he saw while looking out of windows (his favourite pastime he says) are portrayed there. The inclination towards designs on clothes has influenced his painting brush also. “I have intentionally tried to avoid patterns in my works. Still it comes naturally,” Namboodiri says. It turns true in a painting which is about the ridiculous character attributed to a perfectionist by the society. Even in a serious topic, his love towards patterns reflect on the trousers worn by the characters on canvas. Effective utilisation of space appears to be the striking feature of his works. Rather than resorting to the space filling method, the gaps left after placing the dominant characters are judiciously utilised with appropriate elements. He has well narrated this characteristic in an untitled work conveying the man to man and the man to nature communication.
Joseph’s expressions are a celebration of colours. He says that he tries to bring out the cheerfulness of life through his paintings. He has adopted a festivity of colours like red, blue and orange to represent the joyous celebrations of life. At first look, they look like trees in various seasons. Yet the artist says that “it is a kind of innate feeling. Something lies beyond what we see. May be the self-interrogative questions that we raise to ourselves.”
The works appear to maintain perfect graffiti in the action oriented strokes. The author says, “there is a merging of both conscious and the unconscious to bring forth such a characteristic on canvas. An effect of optical illusion is what it can create upon the viewer.” Akin to Jackson Pollock’s drip technique, he has employed the thick strokes of black Indian ink to make the paintings appear action oriented. Joseph would say he drew inspiration from the Japanese calligraphy to try the colour on his works.
What he calls to be a novel method, the artist has utilised the white space of the paper in a semi-abstract style. Rather than applying white colour, he has deliberately left the white space in the paper to create another effect. A painting where he merges all four seasons is a striking piece.
Babu Namboodiri is the head of the department of painting at the Sanskrit University, Kalady. Joseph Mathew is teaching painting in London. The exhibition to conclude on Wednesday is open from 11 am to 6