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WOMANSPEAK


IN AN angst-ridden world, artists exist vicariously through the emotional content of their protagonists. In a suite of paintings and sculptures titled Sthree Parwam a young artist from Kottayam dissects the sensibilities of women, and lays them bare as it were. Even when you feel you've felt it all, the protestations continue.

The lives of the women who inhabit Hochimin P H's canvases are singularly wretched, where the institution of marriage only accentuates their bondage. Through his art Hochimin seeks a way out of this repression; pessimistically concluding that "women can soar only when freed of their bangles and anklets."

The Narmada is an account of the controversy that surrounds the Sardar Sarovar project; the river takes on the form of a woman, as rivers in India are wont to do. The figure hovers and floats above; the tricolour is turned upside down, denoting that the entire project is anti-national and against the interests of the people. The tampering has left the area barren and desert-like; a vivid orange replaces the greenery.


The drawing is staccato but the artist is a gifted colourist. He succeeds in applying broad areas of flat colours, juxtaposing strident blues and inky blacks to get bold, clashing effects of base colours. He says the tonal variation enables him to use the space more effectively.

His works are highly symbolic. In a sculptural piece titled `Ottal,' Hochimin likens the femme vulnerability to that of fish. `Ottal' is a commonly used fishing device used in and around his hometown. Just as the fish meekly surrender to the fisherman's bait, women too fall prey to the machinations and brutalities of the men who control them. Even in his sculpture he remains true to his colouring style; turquoise and ochre are juxtaposed to get a stunning effect.


Hochimin isn't still decided how he wants to portray his central character. He vacillates; more often than not she is a study of despair and resignation as in `Erittunu Mulakodukkunnaval.' But in Ajin Bibi he does a volte face where she is described as powerful, drawing her strength from an inner resource.

So how does he define his woman, beaten and used or heroic in the aftermath of abuse? You come away wondering.

The exhibition is on at Contemporary Art Gallery, Durbar Hall, till March 24.

SUNANDA KHANNA

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