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A quest for expression

BHAWANI CHEERATHBHAWANI CHEERATH

Babu Nambudiri's collection of works reflected a dream-like fantasy.


ARTIST BABU Nambudiri's assemblage of works straddled different worlds in his quest for expression. The frames on display at the 10-day exhibition in Vylopilly Samskriti Bhavan comprised a few of his works done during the past five years. Installation art too drew on tradition to enhance the dynamism of his work.

Figurative and abstract compositions often acquire a dream-like fantasy with the use of appealing tones. In his work, `Ongoing dreams' (1999 - 2004) in watercolour, the artist had suspended steel rims from the roof at different angles. This, said Babu, was an example of his world where "art only poses the issues, be it ethical or existential."

The halo-like presence in the frames receives greater relevance when the steel rims suspended outside restrict as well as focus the viewer's attention to it. The divine halo concept, repeated in 15 frames, is a blend of the real and unreal.

The faces in `Tied and shaped' (1999-2004) in watercolour with suspended tubular shape tied with threads enhanced the significance of the bonds that shackle human beings. The threads tied across different parts of the human forms in the artist's works seemed to depict a bond or a relationship in the world around you. The faces here reminded one of Edwin Muir's words, "Often animals are granted a quasi-personhood and there are various ways of alluding animal and human characteristics... " The threads encircled, controlled, confined and distorted the faces, thus highlighting the frailties. The exaggerations and distortions in the frames seemed to convey that perfection is difficult to attain.


The domain of installation according to the artist should be seen as a possibility of expression and perceived as an imitation of the West. "Transcending Memories" (2004) consisted of an arrangement of drawings on butter paper, acrylic sheets, candles, glass and silver foil. It has an alluring appeal and achieves a dream-like presence. "Formation of Kauravas" (2004) an arrangement of 101 pots, with the mouths wrapped in red cloth. . The visual impact of the work, rooted in tradition, was appealing and alluded to a legend from the Epic. The strong presence of the Orient in the figurative paintings on display could not be missed.

Human forms that closely resembled the Japanese figure and featured recurred in the works. Nambudiri who has had a stint in the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts imbues the forms with features of the Far East. Each of the figures conveyed a sense of calmness, but the composition, as a whole somehow did not reflect the same serenity. Nowhere, did the artist try to de-mystify, nor offer explanations about his works. The artist's work reflected a quaint mix of the real and the unreal; an undisguised search for expressions exercised with restraint.

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