|‘Trayati,’ an ongoing exhibition at the Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram, features the works of nine leading, contemporary Kerala-based artists.
Artistic frames: ‘Trayati’ features a broad range of artistic styles.
The Sanskrit word trayati means ‘to liberate consciousness.’ Trayati and tanothi (meaning ‘to expand consciousness’) are said to be the roots of the word tantra, which is essentially the expansion and liberation of consciousness.
‘Trayati,’ Gallery The Creant’s evocatively-named, well-curated, first ever exhibition of paintings, which brings together the works of nine renowned Kerala-based artists, encourages the viewer to take up these ideals of tantric philosophy and explore each of the paintings with an unfettered mind. There is, however, nothing overtly tantric about any of the 18 works on display. “Take trayati as simply a poetic word that conveys a wealth of meaning,” says artist Sajitha Shankar, who is the curator of the exhibition.
And like trayati, the paintings too seem to hold a wealth of meaning over a broad range of artistic styles. Take Kochi-based artist Zakkir Hussain’s latest work ‘Zero Tolerance,’ for example. This arresting, rather political work, of mixed media on canvas, has a cacophony of amorphous imagery jam-packed on a huge canvas. It seems to depict the artist’s helplessness on the ills that have befallen society.
Some of the images even have accompanying thoughts randomly pencilled into the canvas such as ‘Intended to express the tears of a dead bird. I know this is futile,’ ‘who is controlling your desire,’ ‘to advertise…,’ and so on. So powerful and disturbing is the imagery that that again and again we find ourselves drifting back to it, pondering whether we really are as intolerant as the artist depicts us out to be.
Pradeep Puthoor’s two paintings – ‘Waves of Seeing’ and an untiled work – painted in his signature phantasmagoric magical surrealism style, and crammed with shockingly bright colours: pinks, reds, blues, greens…also keep us guessing. Is this something real or is this pure unadulterated imagination?
Sajitha’s life-size ‘I Am Holding My Own Hand’ is another arresting work. This work has been painted in sombre grey, black and white, shot with bits of gold, in contrast to the artist’s preference for bold reds and oranges.
It is the latest in her signature ‘alter body’ series; a series which explores various facets of the body. Here the artist has painted two abstract self-portraits, placed next to each other, one merging seamlessly into the other. “It symbolises the duality in each individual. I started out tracing my body outline and rather unconsciously crept upon the Ardhanareeshwara concept of duality,” explains Sajitha.
Meanwhile artist and art director Razi Muhammed’s describes his two huge oils – ‘Sphere of Our Sorrows’ and ‘Waiting for Banyan leaves’ as “ordinary things seen through a surreal eye.” Thus everywhere we look on the frames we mostly see distressing images of agony, loneliness, sorrow, confusion, horror…However, with a flower in full bloom and a beautiful butterfly the artist seems to assure us that there is hope amid all the misery.
Likewise the paintings by N.N, Rimzon, Prasanna Kumar, K.P. Reji and Bhagyanath, and the two well-executed fibre glass sculptures by Prasanna Kumar also prod us on to lay bare our understanding of art.
The exhibition is on at the Kerala Lalitakala Akademi Art Gallery, Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram, till May 29.