Babu Namboothiri K’s experiments with art do not stop at sheer papers or canvases. Between the daily rigmaroles, this artist seeks out empty surfaces that may act as his playground. From corpulent cardboard boxes to pastel coloured papers, Babu uses everything and anything to capture his wistful memories. In fierce charcoal strokes he creates a world thronging with ‘small, small, several things’ on a yellowish cardboard background (could have been a box that held his washing machine). Babu’s ongoing exhibition of paintings ‘Small, small, several things all beyond my control’ at Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, showcases the poignant world of the artist in striking compositions.
“I do not hide any secret messages in my paintings. What you see is what you get. They are all things that have been a part of my life at various junctures. What I want people to see is the line colours, compositions and the visual impact it makes than a particular subject,” says Babu, who believes that his paintings narrate a personal journey than a social commitment.
True to his words, there are no pretentious symbolism or abstract elements in this artist’s works, instead they all are images that have stayed with him over the years.
Babu is no novice in the field of art. This artist who has an MFA from Delhi University, got to study painting at Tokyo University of the Arts for two years with a Japanese scholarship. He has conducted exhibitions all over the world including one of the art capitals of the world, Paris.
“The exposure I got from Tokyo was immense. It’s been 14 years since I have come back but even today you can find the influences of Japanese art in my paintings. For example I preferred oil paint for my works but today I use papers a lot, just like the Japanese artists,” says Babu.
The reminiscences of his childhood, sojourns or a broken dream often come back as characters on his papers. His paintings, often figurative, metaphorically convey the lights and shades of memories. From the copper ‘Koppa’ in which he used to drink his morning milk to the bluish rainy days, Babu’s canvases comprise a large dose of nostalgia.
The lifelike imagery he paints on large canvases (made with multiple papers) sneaks you away to an imaginary land, where life is all about strokes and colours.
There are smaller works done in water colour that make you ponder and dig deep, but Babu says his paintings are just images that are drawn to capture the colour contrasts. Just like the man with a flower on his ear. The vibrant red of the flower gives a relief to the heavy grey tone frolicking on the paper.
“I usually work on paper. This is my first work where I have only used paper. Mostly I have worked on water colour. But there are works where mixed mediums are used like charcoal, dry pastels, pastels on water-coloured paper and wood cut graphic prints,” says Babu.
His graphic printed works, ‘Women making web’ and ‘Couple’ stand out for their sheer visual clarity. He has carved images out of a wood block and painted it with brilliant shades of red and yellow.
The exhibition is on till February 21.