Art in times of crisis: how this exhibition shines the light on nature and conflict

Stop abusing nature and humanity — this theme comes across strongly in a unique exhibition of artworks. It urges environmental preservation, resolution of conflict, and relief for refugees.

28th Mar 2020
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 460 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.


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Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru recently hosted an exhibition titled ‘The Sentence,’ featuring the works of six artists from Kerala. This is also the sixth annual edition of the exhibition.


(Note: These photographs were taken before the national lockdown due to the corona virus, and the visit to the gallery was not in violation of any public safety guidelines. In future editions of this column, we will explore the response of the artistic community to the COVID-19 crisis.)


The artist lineup includes John Davy, KR Kumaran, Manoj Narayanan, Renjithlal, Unnikrishnan TT, and Varghese Kalathil. Some of the exhibitors are full-time artists, while others come from professions like teaching and farming. For example, KR Kumaran is Chief Artist, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Mannuthy.


“Art, to me, is the epitome of life. I use the surrealist style of painting to depict how humans are exploiting nature, and want to send the message that such exploitation must stop,” says KR Kumaran, in a chat with YourStory.


His works have been exhibited outside of Kerala in Bengaluru and Delhi as well. The group of artists has conducted over 25 shows in Kerala, and two at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath.





As seen in this photo essay, the artworks convey strong messages about environmental preservation, industrial excesses, the problems of war, and the refugee crisis. The artworks exhibited are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh.


“As an artist, my thoughts and actions are in line with the concerns of the general public. The issues I address include destruction of nature,” Kumaran explains.


He has won a range of awards, including the National Lalit Kala Akademi Award at the 59th National Exhibition of Art, New Delhi, 2017-18. This was awarded for his painting ‘Stray Dogs,’ done in acrylic on large canvas.


Kumaran is also winner of the Art Maestro Award, conferred by the World Wide Art Movement (WWAM). Founded in Kerala in 2007, it now has 5,000 members; its activities include hosting art camps and exhibitions.


Kumaran calls for wider appreciation of art in India. “If art is to flourish in India, art has to become more popular. The work of art teachers and academies should be promoted and accelerated,” he advises. From primary school onwards, children should get acquainted with the history and practice of art.


For the sixth edition of this exhibition, Kumaran made a number of paintings on themes like destruction of animal life and vegetation caused by the Australian wildfire. The group of artists is planning an exhibition in Goa next.


Kumaran is pleased with the feedback from their exhibition. “We received many positive comments,” he said. He also urges audiences to buy more works of art to support the gallery’s activities and the creative community.


“Art should be evaluated in a manner that is enjoyable to everyone. If the artworks are not clearly understood or enjoyed, the audience can interact with the artist for more insights,” he adds, pointing to the advantage of experiencing art exhibitions in this regard.


Kumaran also has words of advice for aspiring artists. “Help build a community that is interested in art. Constantly study and practice, and take part in shows as an exhibitor or observer,” he recommends.


“Interact with other artists to improve your own creativity. And shine the light on causes like preservation of nature,” Kumaran signs off.


Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative energy for a larger cause?


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'The Sentence,' 2020

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