Emblaze, currently at Amuseum art gallery, showcases works — paintings, installations and sculptures – by 26 women artists from across Kerala. A joint venture of the Centre for Art and Cultural Studies and the Amuseum, the exhibition was opened on International Women’s Day.
“We have refrained from sticking to a theme. The event celebrates their art and respects the contribution of these women artists,” says Shijo Jacob, head of the Department of Painting, College of Fine Arts Kerala (CFA) Thiruvananthapuram, and the curator of the exhibition.
Among the artists are art teachers and critics, freelance artists and students of CFA. There is a variety in terms of theme, composition, technique and ideation. Personal, social, spiritual and emotional elements appear in most of the works.
Soumya VN, a student of CFA, in her self-explanatory acrylic painting ‘Study from bus journeys’ captures faces [of people] she has seen during her travels by bus. “Their face and body language often reflect what they might be going through; each face has a story to tell. I am working on a project that focuses on people in general and the bus journey is a part of it,” she adds.
Meanwhile, her classmate Deepa Kumawat takes viewers to Rajasthan, where she hails from. In her Amber series using charcoal on paper, she has portrayed the majestic old Amber city with its forts. “People moved out of Amber, which is a UNESCO heritage site, in search of better prospects. So I wondered what an abandoned city would look like; that’s how these pictures were born. Jaipur, my hometown, is also going through a similar situation with people opting for the urban life,” explains Deepa. ‘Vanishing Jaipur – Metrocity’ is an ode to the grand old Pink City. Having worked with charcoal for the first time, Deepa says, “I have done only oil paintings till now. I used charcoal because I felt that it complements the concept.”
Charcoal has been a favourite medium for Yamini Mohan for many years now. “Emotions have been the mainstay of my works and I find that the language of art gets conveyed in a stronger, better way through charcoal in comparison to colour,” says the artist. Her work, ‘The Hanger’, in charcoal and collage, shows lungs hanging by a hanger, reminding us of the devastating effect of the pandemic on the organ.
Poet and art critic Kavitha Balakrishnan goes back in time to her 13-year-old self when she travelled to Russia as the winner of the Soviet Land Nehru Award for painting. Kavitha shares, “We children were at the beach and the camaraderie was a first-of-its-kind experience for me. There were no inhibitions and I have a photograph in which a kid was painting on my face. I have captured that moment on canvas,” says Kavitha, a lecturer at the Government College of Fine Arts, Thrissur. The artist, also known for her picture poems or poetry drawings, has showcased a series of them in ‘Sugar-coated love’.
Frangipani ( pala or eezhachembakam) takes on a new meaning in the untitled watercolour series by EN Santhi. The artist has associated it with kavu or sacred groves, an enigma for her during her childhood days. “We kids were never allowed to go near the groves. For the last five years, I have been showcasing vignettes from my childhood in my works and kavu has been one of the themes. I found an association between the pala and grove,” says Santhi, who also exhibited a series on groves at the ongoing Kochi Muziris Biennale in Kochi.
Celebrating Nature with natural stains and water colour is Hima Hariharan with her untitled series. “I stain the paper with the juice of flowers or leaves. I love to work with that texture,” says Hima.
Among the installations on display is the ‘Exceeds’ series by Sabitha Kadannappally done in fabric, synthetic cotton and metal. Emotions get a visual representation in the work, with pillows as a main element. “Pillow lends that support when emotions run high,” she explains.
Emblaze is on at Amuseum, near Althara Junction, till March 20 from 10.30am to 11.30pm.