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The Destabilised IMAGE


ZAKKIR HUSSAIN has a huge repertoire of assorted images that he has picked up in his travels; scenes of humdrum activities or images that for some reason have moved him and got entrenched in his memory. In neat, segmented constructions he scatters these around making no attempt to synchronise them in composition or narrative. Each figure has a report that it tells with its own brand of humour or melancholy as the case may be. Through his art, Hussain attempts to reconnect us with ourselves and to the world we seem to have left behind.

Like many artists who have spent their childhood in Kerala, Hussain too pines for the days when coconut palms and paddy fields swayed merrily, celebrating an undisturbed abundance. Pastoral life was marked by a cosy self-sufficiency, moving along in slow motion. But it wasn't long before the winds of change reached its shores, to forever change the landscape of the region. The artist rues the fast-paced lifestyle that has completely colonised the people's mindsets; "so attracted are we to glossy, packaged items that the State's uniqueness is sidelined." Viewers are constantly bombarded with seductive images on their T.V. screens and for the artist it's a Herculean task to match and consequently disrupt these sleek portrayals.

Exiled Homes, charcoal and conte on paper, 120cm x 150cm was conceived in Gujarat, Godhra during the riots, when the artist was struck by the pathetic circumstances that surround women; the demands of a conservative society, the liabilities as homemakers coupled with their physical incapacities to deal with aggressive, violent situations. The artist began by drawing a pregnant woman racing through the streets, carrying a burning house on her back. In the final sketch, beneath an ordered architectural set up the browbeaten woman feels the weight of an urban landscape. The painting doesn't exorcise a national shame but with inventive skill, the artist keeps it alive.


Continuing along a similar vein in thought and process is The First Lesson of Failure. Hussain likens the nestlings to helpless children and women who are appended to their roots; even in the face of calamity they cannot snap the ties and abandon their homes. Painted in shades of brick red, branches of the trees symbolize arteries and veins and are metaphors of sustenance. Hussain asserts that he is no protagonist for any religion or ism, "simply someone distressed at the rapid pace of our dehumanisation. I am constantly energised to do something about it."

On through February, Zakir Hussain's The Destabilised Image is mounted at Draavidia Art and Performance Gallery, Mattancherry.

SUNANDA KHANNA

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