The Lalithakala Art Gallery is witness to yet another unique collection of paintings which deal with themes of symbolic violence in society. The exhibition titled ‘Image/Carnage’ presents the works of artists Ajay Sekher and T Murali. Twenty-three paintings, most of which have been done in acrylic on canvas, adorn the walls of the gallery, which give a different perspective to the application of Puranas to the contemporary culture prevalent in the state. Murali’s works dwell on the hegemonic material violence, with the cultural history and social formations in Kerala as the basic context. His paintings deal with the topic of casteism and the profound impact it has on society. Through his paintings such as ‘Channar Women,’ he depicts the mutilations and genocide on the body and mind which the cast-driven society of Kerala has been doing for more than a thousand years. A painting named ‘Taj Mahal’ is eye-catching as it has no image of Taj Mahal, but two arms holding two tombs against a red backdrop. The artist explains it to be an ache after hearing about the history behind the man who constructed it. “The arms of architect Lahori were chopped off after the Taj Mahal was constructed. The pain of the architect is depicted in the image,” says Murali. His works also depict the oppression faced by women. By questioning the patriarchal society, backed by Puranas that glorified slavery and violence, he has given colour to the popular religion and dogmatic faith with a hue of criticism. “The reason there is so much violence happening in our country is because the Puranas and the ancient religious texts that we follow glorify such acts. An artist should be able to depict art without any religious sentiments blocking his thoughts; an art will attain moksha only then,” explains T Murali. Artist Ajay Sekher’s work represents various modes of demonization and animalization in contemporary politics of Kerala and India. His art criticises the violence faced by the marginalised sections of society. Both the artists merge contemporary visual art and local culture. Most of the paintings openly criticise Hindutva values. This is the second edition of ‘Image/Carnage’ after a successful show in Kochi. The exhibition will go on till October 27.