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Lokame Tharavadu (The World is One Family)
Alappuzha & Ernakulam: 18/04/2021 to 31/12/2021
The Kochi Biennale Foundation, with the support of the Govt. of Kerala presents a large-scale contemporary art survey exhibition titled ‘Lokame Tharavadu’. The show will feature the works of 267 artists who trace their roots back to Kerala, in five different venues in Alappuzha and Durbar Hall, Ernakulam. A collection of works of each participating artist is exhibited, in an attempt to foreground each of their individual practices.
The core idea of this exhibition, the world is one family, is drawn from the verses of a Malayalam poem written by Vallathol Narayana Menon, which appeals to the universal spirit of humanity, especially in these times of the pandemic. The exhibition invokes the power of art to revive and resurrect the dejected human spirit. The curator, Bose Krishnamachari has conceptualised the exhibition asking certain important questions about our ideas of home, surroundings and the world. The show is also a step taken towards realising the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s vision to enrich the public discourse on contemporary art, and to create a platform that will introduce global contemporary visual art theory and practice, aesthetics and art experiences to the Indian public.
"It could also be the local and contemporary envisioning of a scene from Dante’s Divine Comedy." CS Venkiteswaran
Born in 1968 in Tellicherry, Kerela, C. Bhagyanath received his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (painting) from the College of Fine Arts, Triavandrum, in 1992. Following this, the artist went on to study at the Sarojini Naidu School of Performing Arts, Fine Arts and Communication in Hyderabad, where he received his Master’s degree in the same subject in 2006. Bhagyanath was awarded the State Lalit Kala Akademi Award, Kerala, in 2002. The artist lives and works in Kerala.
FIGURING THE MONSTROUS SLEEP OF REASON BY CS VENKITESWARAN >>
"K.S. Sooraja is very bold in a way she is sexualizing hair." Zuzana Zwiebel
"One of the most personal and poignant works in the show is a series by young K.S. Sooraja. Wisps of a woman’s hair form a snare that coils across her vision and voice. In another, the strands join to form a clothesline where patriarchy is hung out to dry. When we begin talking, Sooraja admits that she has no answer to her obsession with women's hair. Barely two minutes into the conversation, she remembers the sudden urge that gripped her in 2014, prodding her to shave her head. “It is my hair, my head, and yet something held me back. Perhaps I was worried about being ridiculed.” This realisation was followed by a series of self-portraits of herself as a bald woman. Since then, Sooraja’s weakness and power have sprung from the same source, her hair. Are we, as women, ever at home in our bodies? In a way, Sooraja’s enlightenment is for all of us. Once we figure out that what draws out that sensation of feeling ostracised and pursue it, we are most likely on our way home to ourselves."
"It is like a god’s eye view of the world. It is an out of the body feeling about the world, life and history." CS Venkiteswaran
"Imageries of my works belong to a world of mythopoeia. In the momentary lapse of reason, they appear as shooting stars on the distant horizon of the mindscape. The stroke of such visions instantly frees me from the grasp of the pattern of mundane thoughts. They flashlight into our deeper interior world and reveal that the individual is not a closed system but a focus in the collective mind. The impact left by such moments may linger inside over a period of time and if necessary, gives way for a pictorial articulation. I present my work as a device which can turn the viewer inwards in order to behold our inner reality."
EPIPHANY OF THE END BY CS VENKITESWARAN >>
Reghunadhan works hardly narrate any stories, rather choosing to dwell on the verge of the abstract.Even with all the loads of multiple references stashed up in his works,Reghunadhan has steered clear of any literary narrative, leaving the sculptures to their own identity.Yet, that element of fascinating absurdity created by juxtaposition of the apparently mismatching objects and ideas is a direct import from his process of story telling.While telling stories, Reghunadhan meanders from one topic and one person to another, yet to another, ending with the stories of totally disconnected people or places.
MASTER PRACTICE STUDIO WITH REGHUNADHAN K >>
"G.S. Smitha’s paintings are full of creepy-crawlies and that's what she loves." Manorama
Smitha is one such human being for whom the meanest creature on Earth is worthy of her love and her love and reverence. Right from childhood, she used to keenly observe insects, maggots and all sorts of crawling creatures. She has spent hours watching the antics of antlions (kuzhiyana). That’s how she learned that antlion is the larva of the dragonfly. Smitha has painted the lifecycle of the antlion transforming into the dragonfly. She frets over the thought that insecticides may ultimately weed out her dearest creatures from the face of the earth. If that were to happen, tomorrow’s kids would never know that such creatures once lived on this planet.
THE WOMAN WHO TAKES CREEPY-CRAWLIES FROM BAIT BOX TO GALLERY >>
"The complementary view of observing all elements of Universe in you and yourselves in entire Universe, is portrayed through those eyes." Babu KG
I was drawn into the warmth and glory of tribal life, into its pulsating rhythm in my frequent visits and stay in my brothers dwelling in the forest. I discovered a strong bond between my inner self and the forest. This mesmerizing affinity evolved into an inspiration and illumination in my art, and the forest with its dwellers (adivasis) became an indispensable part of my paintings.
Their eyes are icons of their well grounded life, pitiful experiences, their existential struggles, the acquired cultural dimensions and divinity. The complementary view of observing all elements of Universe in you and yourselves in entire Universe, is portrayed through those eyes.
ARTIST BABU KG >>
The idea has been adopted from the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, which captures the history of human survival. The artist perceived Noah’s Ark as a luminous idea of a man who has fervent observations about nature. This idea reflect also the Indian independence struggle and Mahatma Gandhi philosophy.
Sunil was one among the five artists from India featured in a book "International Water Colour Artists", selection of 39 eminent artists from 32 different countries.
SUNIL LINUS DE
Born in 1968 in Mundakayam, a highrange town in Kottayam, Sunil was an accomplished student of drawing and painting, a skill that manifested itself in him from an early age. He took his degree in Applied Arts from Raja Ravivarma College of Fine Arts, Mavelikkara. Sunil brings with him over twenty five years of top-notch experience in the advertising industry. He brought alive catchy ads, brochures and posters. He has worked on international brands and has directed ad films for multinational companies. His works have found their place in numerous exhibits and have been featured in several solo shows. His foray into social media earned him widespread recognition and acceptance among fans and collectors. Sunil concentrated on water colour painting and is an outstanding exponent of the medium. He is among the artists from India who excelled in this light sensitive and hard to re work medium.
"I use my paintings to open an unexplored world, a place of curious self-expression frozen in memory."
Artist Pradeep Puthoor recently won the Adolf-Esther Gottlieb Foundation award for his contributions in the field of art over the past 25 years. He is the first South Indian artist to receive the honour instituted in the memory of renowned US abstract expressionist painter Adolf Gottlieb. Pradeep believes his award will inspire young artists to explore opportunities and dream big. “I evolved as an artist through creative engagements I have been part of over the years.
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS: WHERE MAGIC MEETS ART >>
Art for me is a process of mediation between myself and the world around me. I have come to realise that images have their own inner logic and their own stories to tell. The meaning of images lies in the encounter between the image and the viewer.
Dibin Thilakan is an emerging voice in the contemporary art scene of Kerala, based in Thrissur. Inspired by Indian Folklore, miniature and also by storytelling traditions, the artist emphasizes on his intention to communicate directly to the spectators through his art. Dibin's work featuring strong narrative aspects exploring the human condition, have received national level recognition and is a part of Sarmaya museum’s contemporary art collection.
“I discovered a course in sculpting at the college and when I heard about it, curiosity got the better of me. I guess it was also because my dad was a carpenter and the the knack to make art out of nothing was there in my blood.”
There is a kind of energy which exudes from Chithra’s sculptures, it is an energy which comes undefined or unbiased and is completely self generated. The works therefore stand bereft of any obvious lineages which could dilute the experience of viewing it. Why this feature is so important today, is because we live in times where images and imageries hold our attention hostage in every aspect of our viewing experiences, sometimes even replacing our own experience with an imagined or projected one from somebody else’s life like a borrowed memory. This creates a kind of mental, visual and coerced superimposition within the evolution of discourses on visual art and visual culture. Evolution is not a linear process thus there are numerous factors which contribute, deter or even stop its progression. So when we look at Chithra’s works, we encounter a slightly changed perception of things like the human body, a subject which she has been exploring for a long time now through her works.
THE HAND MADE’S TALE BY SUSHMA SABNIS >>
"In 2021, at the Lokame Tharavadu exhibition, Blodsow V.S. has displayed his fully developed work, ‘Spectrum - Dear Mr Ellsworth Kelly & Others’. The 23 ft long diptych, uses 99 shades of fabric spools he sourced from a textile shop in Alappuzha. Facing it is an installation titled ‘Left to Right: Fragmented 19: Fragmented Spectrum (Masks); Remaining 19 in the article’. Each of the 19 pillars, with masked busts of the artist himself, is 7.3 ft tall.
Blodsow repurposed the work of late American artist, Ellsworth Kelly. The sculptures, inspired by the Ashoka stupas, are also adorning one mask each with the term Constitution of India spelt out on them. A link to Article 19 of the Constitution, which define the right to free speech, the artist explains.
The work also represents the gender struggles of women starting from Nangeli, who fought against the breast tax a much later generation who strived to protect their dignity at work. “It also foregrounds the struggles of the saleswomen in Kerala textile shops, who had to protest to ensure their rights and workplace dignity. The art is also a representative of our many sexualities and the multiple shades of political opinion”, adds the self-taught artist."
BLENDING HISTORY AND POLITICS >>
Ameen Khaleel is using his art to express what has missed society’s eyes during this lockdown.
“Before starting the project, I collected around 500 photographs of women in burqa against various contexts, like beaches and public institutions. Lines and images created using pigment prints and acrylic colour are later layered with the photographs to create a special effect. The women are looking up at the skies as if in hope for a better day in a series called ‘separated kiss’, and in few other frames, their features and clothes have been elongated or tweaked to make them more prominent to the viewer’s eye."
LAYERS OF TALES >>
"The artists like Aami Atmaja and K.S. Sooraja turn the gaze inward. It doesn’t take long for me to dart my eyes from the woman in a state of trance in Aami Atmaja’s canvas onto the pitch-black spaces that crowd her art. It took me to the lines from Mary Oliver's poem, The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac: “Do you need a little darkness to get you going?” There is something deep and cavernous about these negative spaces. Like a dark secret hidden in an unlikely place. Like the shadow of an afterthought. Her oeuvre prompted me to ponder over the ever-present question: Where is a woman truly at home?
VOGUE: AT ‘LOKAME THARAVADU’ IN KERALA, WOMEN EXPLORE THE POLITICS OF BEING AND BELONGING >>
The photographs of Sunil on show at Lokame Tharavadu are about coastal lives, livelihood and habitat. It is a series of images of crumbling, broken houses at the edge of the sea, with the waves lashing at what is left of them. At the primary level, they are about the fragility of the lives and homes of fisherfolk living at the edges of the sealine.
Says Sunil: “Most of them are engaged in fishing or allied activities. When I visited them, I came to know that many of their houses were partially destroyed due to sea erosion. These have become uninhabitable. This had a spillover effect, making many homeless throughout the coastline of Kerala. The cause of it lies primarily on the drastic change of climate, and also factors such as unscientific developmental projects and encroachment of seashore for construction.”
KR SUNIL >>
WAYS OF SEEING AND UNSEEING BY CS VENKITESWARAN >>
"Knowledge and body are two words that have recurred to my thoughts throughout this pandemic period we are in currently. The exodus caused by the sudden lockdown made many citizens/ migrants devastated and helpless. Many of these people were forced to move to cities leaving land, home, and occupation/ knowledge - owing to the massive developmental plans by the state or other disasters. And now, ironically, the same population is moving back to homes that do not exist. I just think about this chilling violent cycle one is forced into. The knowledge and expertise these communities of agricultural labourers, artisans or forest dwellers possessed was erased or replaced in the newer urban context they settled in. With their astonishing survival abilities and intelligence, the same communities would learn newer knowledge relevant to survive. But now, what is happening is, with their forced abandonment from the cities they embraced, this knowledge has become useless once again. Thinking of the thousands of labourers, who are ‘migrants’ in their own country, who have been on a constant move. They can only trust their bodies and the walk for survival begins. Body is the only tool and asset these communities possess. We can never forget the journeys these people undertook covering unimaginable distances by foot with such confidence and self-reliance. Their bodies never gave up or failed them. This ‘walk’ has brought out failures in the system we live in. The ‘migrants’ consist of a significant vote-bank in the political sphere, still their presence remains unacknowledged from any kind of visions for the state. Maybe their demands are bare minimum - just Food, that is solved with tokenism of a couple of kilos of free food grains. There is nothing that can necessitate the state to treat them with dignity...
When the lockdown was announced, like any other citizen, I hurriedly stocked up essentials for home and brought material from my studio. Initial weeks were spent, rather excitedly in cleaning-organizing, cooking and watching movies. This engagement and self-entertainment didn’t last for too long. A strange sense of loneliness started haunting even as I was active. As an artist, one is used to the process of self-isolation. But this isolation is different. Firstly, it is not imposed by myself. Secondly, I enjoy the isolation when the world around me is lively and bustling. Now, for the first time I am experiencing life around me coming to a standstill. This is very disturbing. The uncertainties, fear, and sadness have surrounded our lives. It is unsettling not to see smiles on people’s faces where emotions are expressed only though emojis. One is in a situation where you are suspicious of anyone you come across to be a threat. Hoping for the time when I can hug a friend or travel to meet my loved ones."
K. P. Reji, Baroda, August 2020.
"Gigi Scaria brings out the paradoxes of the notion of the world as one family.”
"Delhi-based Gigi Scaria brings out the paradoxes of the notion of “the world as one family” through four of his works on display at Port Museum. “While we are not alone in social situations, each individual deals with issues differently,” says Scaria. One of his recent bronze works, Stuck, has a tree struggling to shoot out from the confines of a house, symbolic of how urbanisation is suffocating the environment. In the 3.5 minute single-channel video Expanded (2015), he stitches together still photographs of refugee camps from different parts of the world in a single landscape. “These migrants are also part of the big family, but why have we abandoned them? Through the struggles of different times we understand how we operate as one family,” says the Kothanalloor-born artist."
GIGI SCARIA >>
“I am on a quest in search of a language that goes beyond the visual language. My focus is on simplifying the complicated subjects in life such as human anatomy.”
Sathyapal T.A, born in 1956 at Thrippunithura in Ernakulam District of Kerala. is an Indian painter, and writer from Kerala. As an artist he lived with Tribes in Bastar, Ektal, Gadabengal, Amarkhnadak, Barsur, Mardum, Bindha, Karampur, Chilkutty, Sarguja, Kondagon, Anjar, Keralapal, Narayanpur, Mahasamud, Khoraput Chitrakoot, and Kabir Chabutra. He is recipient of several honours including the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Award. He was the former secretary & chairman of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi.
Sreeja Pallam, who has exhibited 40 paintings of working women, feels that women's art has another dimension and that Lokame Tharavadu is displaying its variety and attitudes. Some of the exhibition’s most powerful works come from women. Out of the 268 artists, 56 are women, accounting for roughly 22 per cent. A lower primary school teacher from Ottapalam, Sreeja Pallam’s canvases stand out especially for the thrust on gender. The 40 women depicted in her paintings, in different occupational roles, are inspired from the faces Pallam has observed in her neighbourhood, during her journeys, and from the books she reads. The artwork, two years in the making and still ongoing, seeks to cement the role of women in Kerala’s skewed labour market. Despite being better educated than their counterparts in other Indian states, women in Kerala lag behind in work participation rate and wage levels. “This is part of my investigation into the position of women and the invaluable work they do in a traditional male-dominated society,” says Pallam.
"His art speaks not just for the Dalits!" Anita Mahadevam
"His art to me speaks not just for the Dalits, but for all those in the fringes of the society. He nails each wooden man unclothed, masked, unmasked on long rusted nails as a depiction of the systemic societal crucifixion at large that is at play. Everything has meaning, every element plays its part. He has used the wood from the Odollam tree, also called the suicide tree for its poisonous fruit. A mixtape of Malayalam cinema dialogues based on Malayalam literature runs in subtitles on the side, on a screen." Anita Mahadevam
ART SATVA - VINU VV >>
ABDUL KALAM AZAD PATTANAM
Abul Kalam Azad was born in Kerala, and brought up in the historical dockland Mattancherry which features extensively in his works. Abul’s association with theatre, music, art and politics in the post-emergency period moulded a radical thinking, which coupled with a passion for photography that he shared with his father Haneef Rahman made him choose an “unconventional” career in photography. Abul initially became involved in the technicalities of photography and printmaking by working as an apprentice in a studio during his schooling. During the late 1980s, he set up ‘Studio Zen’ and began to work with prominent news agencies and periodicals in India and abroad. In the meantime, he continued his own personal explorations and documentations of experiences and memories of his native land. He is the Founder Chairman of Ekalokam Trust for Photography and Director of Public Photo art Project 365. He is also serving as the Editor in Chief of Photo Mail, an online magazine for photo art. Abul's pioneering work brings about a break to the norms of classical photography and creates images blending the technical perfection of the medium of photography with formal and thematic ideas from other visual arts, and images that surpasses reality, dream and the abstract.
GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE >>
PS Jalaja's works are socially and politically concerned, sensitive responses marked on time from local school of thoughts. Jalaja continuously explores local and global economical, political, racial and religious issues bringing it on her creative spaces, without solutions but relevant responsibility. PS Jalaja is constantly fascinated by people, crowds in particular. The crowd as an organic entity forms the backbone of Jalaja’s repertoire. Some of her canvases have thousands of people in them. “Each person in a crowd has a different expression, mannerism, skin colour … yet beyond all that, they are just human,” says the artist.
THE HINDU: HER SPACE IN THE CROWD >>
"My professional life as an artist began as an illustrator for various national newspapers. I have explored painting, drawing, and sculpture, and worked in almost every medium possible, from paper to bronze, from traditional art exhibition of painting to contemporary multi-media art installation projects and performance art." As a performance artist, Dayanand is always in the search for new ways to critique the socio-political scenarios in the country. “I am exposing myself literally and figuratively to hold a mirror to the society. Every artist is an activist. I am a sculptor, but performance art is the form that gives voice to my activism.”
THE HINDU: ANIL DAYANAND - EVERY ARTIST IS AN ACTIVIST >>
I witnessed political violence that personally impacted me - one of my friends was assassinated. This broke my heart and I began to question my place in both cultures I had grown up in, I was trying to find my place in the world.
TITO STANLEY S.J.
"I was born in Abu Dhabi of Indian heritage and later resided in India during my childhood. My childhood was mixed up with two different landscapes and two different societies, with a strict and pervading presence of religion. The climate and culture in Kerala was different to me at first, I felt displaced, but slowly changed and adapted with my new land, even though my inner landscape and imagination memorised both places and I drew landscapes and human figures in both perspectives."
RELICS OF A DIVINE LAND >>
"As an artist hailing from Kerala, Sunil Pookode has confined himself to the cultural milieu of rustic simplicity of Kerala. In another sense, his work is a pictorial rendering of the social history of Kerala's enduring childhood changing with the times. The choice of watercolor with the style of a child's rough drawing suits the theme. One cannot imagine another mode and a different medium, for the simple chronicles of the children of Kerala."
Radha Gomaty, had her Design and Art education at NID, Ahmedabad, Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda & Viswabharathi University, Santiniketan. Radha is richly experienced through multiple pursuits calling on her empathy and people skills including teaching, mentoring and coordinating. While coordinating Alternate Network of Media People (a not for profit trust), she scripted and took up post-production tasks for a docu-film that went on to win seven major awards (The 18th Elephant-3 Monologues). Radha is also a published poet who works in a range of media, including video, painting, sculpture.Two of her works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Sacred Art in Brussels, Belgium.
RADHA GOMATY >>
Arun KS states that his works reflect on time and its relation to history. History is a narrative with authors, but Arun is interested in psychological time, which cannot have such origins. This idea he develops in his paintings through the the process of layering, of adding and erasing layers, offering even invitation to accident. Arun believes that the space in Kochi will activate his work with its own history.
ARUN KS | KOCHI-MUZIRIS BIENNALE 2014 >>
MONA S MOHAN
The pandemic and its effect on the relationship with home is among the themes artists have tackled. During the lockdown, Mona S. Mohan, who lives in Thripunithura, spent her time indoors hand-stitching thread portraits of people she describes as “life’s survivors”—daily wagers, delivery persons.
MONA S MOHAN | LOKAME THARAVAD | THE CUE >>
In his work Housing Dreams Walls, the houses photographed are from a closely-knit locale in Kerala – a significant and rapidly popular pattern in this part of the country. The pattern of richly colored and aggressively decorated residences symbolizes prosperity and exudes a sense of security – both financial and social. Although the vocabulary of aesthetics can be termed kitsch, the idea is to understand the underlying expression in the ostentatiously and vibrantly decorated households and giving them some sense of individuality, reflecting their owners’ personalities. The colorful walls symbolize wealth, while also reflecting the manner in which the owners would like others to perceive them. On a less visible level, the paint used also happens to be toxic, so it pollutes the ground when rain showers wash the colorful houses.
VIVEK VILASINI AND DOCUMENTATION OF KERALA HOUSES BY DEEPAK MATHEW >>
Biju Ibrahim captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic and mystery of spaces and places, broken vessels and torn fabric, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before.
Biju Ibrahim's photographic practice involves eight years of rigorous practice in making images, having received no formal education and training in photography — with the weight of the labour, journeys across fractured landscapes, burnt down histories, Biju Ibrahim captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic and mystery of spaces and places, broken vessels and torn fabric, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before. He is passionate about capturing the histories and existential praxis of the mystic cultures of Kondotty and Ponnani, the two coastal geographies of Malabar and their linkages with the faraway lands of Arab and the Greek region embedded in the mark of coevalness and multiplicities, of vanishing textures and grains of languages and history’s voice.
COMMUNITIES OF KOCHI BY BIJU IBRAHIM >>
Seeks to invoke the cosmopolitan spirit of the modern metropolis of Kochi and its mythical past, Muziris, create a platform that introduce contemporary international visual art theory and practice to India.
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