A solo show, Orthic 2020-22, by veteran artist and one of India’s leading abstractionists T. Kaladharan is under way at Nanappa Art Gallery in the city. The exhibition features works done during the pandemic. While the work of many artists reflects the shadow of COVID-19, Kaladharan’s art bucks the trend and does not reveal the trauma the world went through. He was the hopeful artist who knew that this too would pass.
Except for the reduced size of the 50-odd paintings, it looks as if the artist picked up the brush where he had left it before the world stopped in its tracks. In one painting, an inky black line flows from the top to the middle and curves around faces, figures and flowers and overlaps swirls of orange and red hues. “I could not stop drawing that line,” smiles the artist.
Artist Akkitham Narayanan at the painting exhibition by T. Kaladharan at Nanappa Art Gallery in Kochi on Monday.
| Photo Credit: H. VIBHU
‘Gothic and Tantric’ is a multi-layered narrative that harks back to his earlier joyous series Vasantham, Greeshmam and Ashadham. Deep exuberant colours and a batik style that have come to be the artist’s trademark dominate this painting.
For him, glass has been a favourite drawing board. Earlier, he used pure glass but now acrylic glass boards offer a freedom. “Sometimes the transparency is symbolic of illusion,” he says. But painting on glass is tricky as he has to create a reverse image. The acrylic glass boards on show are filled with a medley of figures, motifs, animals and flowers and the frames are charged with movement both from the broad brush strokes and the vibrancy of the animated figures. “The acrylic paints for glass are transparent, they let the drawings come through,” explains the artist.
When the pandemic struck, Kaladharan locked himself up at his house, which had a studio and a gallery. “I have health issues, so I completely isolated myself,” he says. He passed his time painting and looking out of the large window “with horizontal grilles and vertical shutters” that has surreptitiously crept into his works. The window’s straight and sleeping patterns run parallel in some works and meet to form geometric shapes in others. “These represent different perspectives,” says the artist, adding that the open window during the closed years of the pandemic offered multiple interpretations of life.
Kaladharan studied art and sculpture under eminent artists like the late M.V. Devan, Namboothiri and Kannayi Kunjiraman. He set up Keralakalapeedam in the 1980s to usher in a movement that changed the way art was interpreted in Kerala.
The show is dedicated to late artist K.C. Chitrabhanu and was inaugurated by veteran artist Akkitham Narayanan on Monday. It will conclude on October 14.